Ushahidi: The African Software Platform Helping Victims In Global Emergencies

Staff Writer | Knowledge @ Wharton | January 22, 2013

During a natural disaster or in the midst of civil violence, the immediate need for those caught up in the situation is to escape and find a safe haven. But oftentimes in such chaos, information is difficult to come by and unreliable.

One such crisis propelled the formation of a software platform called "Ushahidi," which combined Google Maps with crowd-sourced information to pinpoint safe havens. First developed within a matter of days during the aftermath of the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, today the technology is used all over the world.

Users in the Middle East have adapted the software platform for their causes. Activists track casualties in Syria with Syria Tracker and Shamiyaat, and harassment in Egypt with HarassMap. The platform was used in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to find survivors and the 2011 Japanese tsunami to visualize information about what was going on there...