Ushahidi – building technology to help marginalised
people raise their voice and get the help they need
Ushahidi – “testimony” or “witness” in Swahili – was founded in Kenya in 2008, in response to the violence that broke out following the election. Millions of Kenyans had no way of knowing what was happening where, or how to stay safe. Four technologists came together to build a web-based platform that could crowdsource first hand reports from citizens about what was happening on the ground. These were then geolocated and timestamped and used to trigger alerts to people on the ground and help them stay safe.
Since then, Ushahidi has been used in over 150,000 times in over 160 countries to gather over 50 million reports. In 2018 it was awarded the Not for Profit Award in the Shield in the Cloud Challenge.
It has almost always been the case that, during a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster, the people that are making the decisions and implementing solutions are rarely the people that are on the ground and most at risk. What’s more, it is those that are most at risk that have the least access to the latest information.
They have no say in decisions that are made – which could have a lasting impact on their lives – and they are often the last to know about it.
What was needed
People in critical situations needed a safe and secure way to communicate with those that could help them – so that they could raise awareness of an issue, help others in similar situations, and impact the decisions being made about them.
An award-winning solution
Ushahidi gives disadvantaged people the means to be active participants in solving challenging problems and advocating for change.
Developed in 2008 in response to the crisis that broke out in Kenya following the election, Ushahidi is a sustainable software platform that gives people a voice and enables organisations to listen and respond better. The platform collects crowdsourced data and targeted survey responses from multiple data sources. The technology means that anyone with access to a simple phone or computer can input data. The data is then displayed in a visual way which is easy to understand and analyse, enabling decisions to be made more quickly and accurately. Finally, users can also trigger automatic notifications of pertinent information to relevant stakeholders.
It has several use cases. In the wake of a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake, Ushahidi makes it possible to collect real-time reports from people on the ground. In situations prone to corruption, such as elections, Ushahidi acts as a reporting tool. Since its creation, it has been used by grassroots activists, first responders, development practitioners and many others across the world for responding to crisis’s, election monitoring and human rights reporting
What did the award mean?
Katy Money, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Ushahidi, commented, “Since its creation ten years ago, the Ushahidi platform has been used by many organisations working to improve transparency and accountability around the world, but we know there is always more that can be done. It was wonderful to be recognised with a Shield in the Cloud award, and we hope it has helped continue to spread awareness of what we can offer and how we can support both organisations and people on the ground.”
Shield in the Cloud is a global competition and open to organisations of all sizes that are using innovative technology to challenge corruption. Applications for this year’s Shield in the Cloud challenge close on 28th February – you can enter here.