We just finished day one of the Ushahidi strategy tech meeting in Orlando. We’re meeting to refine the focus and define the initiatives that we should be putting our limited resources and guidance behind for the rest of this year. Our goal was to get together a dozen of the most involved builders and idea generators behind Ushahidi over the past year, and put their brains to good use for a hard-hitting weekend of decision making and discussion on the Ushahidi platform.
Through the kindness of OSI, we were able to fly in a number of the core Ushahidi devs from around Africa, including Soyapi Mumba from Malawi, Henry Addo from Ghana and Brian Muita from Kenya. On top of that, some of the top subject matter experts from around the US and UK were able to fly in, many on their own dime, to help us figure out mapping, media data and SMS related issues. MindComet have allowed us to use their state-of-the-art meeting room facility, which has made communication amongst us techies a breeze.
The focus on day 1 has revolved around the core architecture. Specifically, what should be included as “must haves” in the workup to a finished Beta in April, and what are just “nice to haves” that we can work on after Beta is released. We’re still defining what that list is, but should have a it fairly well complete by tomorrow.
Other discussions have revolved around future and parallel initiatives, Kaushal Jhalla and Chris Blow are here to talk about Swift River prototyping and implementation. Ping, from Google.org is here to figure out how initiatives like PFIF and offline mapping fit in, along with suggestions and ideas from mapping guru Andrew Turner. Ken Banks is here to talk SMS and Ushahidi’s partnership with FrontlineSMS, while Sean Gourley is giving us guidance on what to do with machine algorithms as they apply to news feeds. Finally, we have Caleb Bell to help with web design mockups, questions and ideas to make everything faster and more user friendly, and Patrick Meier from Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to give us feedback on thoughts from the humanitarian field.
All in all, it’s been a very fast-paced and exciting day full of engaging conversation. We finished it with a dinner at the Nyumbani ya Hersman (my house), where everyone got to relax and enjoy my wife’s fine cooking.