Posts Tagged ‘Ushahidi ’

Kenya Delivers Open Government

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Leader of the pack

Last July, Kenya became the first sub-Saharan country to launch an open data government site, enabling its citizens to gain access to vital information. After only six months, the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) is still a work in progress, but it’s already reshaped Kenya’s culture of government.

When KODI was launched, Kenya was only the 22nd country with an open government portal. Today, 30 countries have live, open government sites, though dozens of other countries are in some stage of developing their own. Kenya’s early adoption is due in large part to the efforts of open data advocates both within Kenya’s government and among its influential technology community.

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Blazing Trails in Africa

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Accra, Ghana

In reflecting on the year ending, my thoughts turn again to Africa, home of six of the world’s top 10 fastest growing economies. Africa’s mobile revolution is spawning exciting, new opportunities for entrepreneurs and engineers. For practitioners eager to experience the impact of their work, there’s no more dynamic and interesting place to be than Africa today.

With that in mind, I’d like to share three short but inspiring talks given in 2011 by three of Africa’s best and brightest pioneers. These trailblazers all began their careers in technology, but now they’re developing “platforms” in the broader sense, enabling a new generation of Africans to reshape their future.

Each speaker offers their unique perspective, but a common theme from all of the talks is that Africa is rising rapidly. Through their courage and determination, Africa’s trailblazers can inspire us all to persevere, whether we work on the continent or not.

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Kenya’s Tech Helps Chile, Too

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Saturday’s massive earthquake off the coast of Chile slammed Santiago, the capital, and nearby regions. Buildings were leveled and official reports place the death toll at 708, though that’s likely to climb. Although the Chilean event was many times more severe than last month’s quake in Haiti, the sturdier infrastructure in Chile offered residents far more protection.

I’d written recently (“Out of Africa, Help for Haiti”) about an open-source tech platform developed in Kenya called Ushahidi which enables people in crisis-affected areas to text their location and make urgent requests or provide assistance for those needing it.  Ushahidi’s disaster relief system is being used in the aftermath of Haiti’s quake, and now it’s being used to provide vital disaster relief in Chile.

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Out of Africa, Help for Haiti

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

News from Port-au-Prince

It’s been a week since the Port-au-Prince earthquake and images streaming in are helping us to grasp the region’s boundless misery and desperation. Hundreds of thousands have perished, and despite our best efforts, more will die and suffer for myriad reasons including the inability to deliver relief where it’s needed.

Despite the gut-wrenching news, it’s heartening to learn that determined, inventive people are finding ways to alleviate the suffering and, in some cases, save lives.

One of the more interesting stories is about an open-source project called Ushahidi which takes its name from the Swahili word for “testimony”.  The software, developed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, enables text messages to be mapped by time and location.  Anyone with an internet connection, regardless of the device they use to access it, can send a text message, an image or an email. Ushahidi can also store data offline for later synchronization.

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