2 Tech Tools for Emergencies from our Westgate Experience: Ping and Blood Donation

Erik Hersman | Ushahidi Blog | September 24, 2013

As we mentioned yesterday, it’s been a bit of a crazy few days in Nairobi. The full Ushahidi team met yesterday (many virtually, of course), and we talked about many issues surrounding the Westgate siege and our own tools. This lead us to then think through our skills and tools, and where we could be useful. Two thoughts came immediately to mind:

There was a consistent problem in every disaster that happens, not just in Kenya, but everywhere. Small groups, families and companies need to quickly check in with each other. They need to “ping” one another to make sure they’re okay. It has to be something incredibly simple, that requires little thinking to use. People have been doing some stuff in this space in the past, the best like “I’m Ok ” are focused on smartphone users, but we have a need to make it work for even the simplest phones. Our goal is to have this available for anyone globally to use...The Ping App - a group check-in tool for emergencies...

Blood Donation Locations, and Needs

The Red Cross has been instrumental in mobilizing Kenyans these past few days. In the wake of this tragedy, thousands of Kenyans came out to donate blood or help those searching for their loved ones. The Red Cross team, understandably so,was overwhelmed, and most Kenyans were not aware of other blood centers around the country...Another problem that they have is that the hospitals are running short on some types of blood, and are overwhelmed with others, as the Kenyan population comes out in full force to donate blood.

How can this be managed better, so that people aren’t turned away from some places and so that they know where to go for their type? We set up a crowdmap deployment to map our all locations of blood drive centers, in an effort to match these areas with those willing to help at BloodDonationKenya.Crowdmap.com, either through blood donation, medical instruments or medical personnel...

It’s times like this where it takes a community of people to get things done. We’ve seen this already in action in so many ways, through food for tired workers, blood donations and money donations. In the midst of a terrible time, we also see the best of humanity shine through.