Getting Better at Design and Crisis Mapping

I’m really (REALLY) excited today. Today I get to announce that two amazing individuals who have been long-time Ushahidi community members are joining the team to help with areas that we have a great need for their expertise in.

First though, a big thank you to the Cisco Foundation. Through their generous grant, we have been able to focus on developing certain features into the Ushahidi application, many of which require the expertise of Patrick and Caleb (below). The funding of Ushahidi’s core team, which serves to shepherd its growth, community and core architecture, has been a critical need that we have been fortunate to have filled by partners like the Cisco Foundation, Humanity United, MacArthur Foundation, Knight Foundation and OSI.

Patrick Meier: Crisis Mapping

Patrick MeierThere has been such remarkable demand for Ushahidi that we needed someone with professional experience in the humanitarian field and a sound understanding of crisis mapping to manage strategic partnerships and help take Ushahidi to the next level. Almost everyone in this space knows Patrick (via his iRevolution and Conflict Early Warning blogs), and he brings this skill-set along with plenty of energy to Ushahidi.

Patrick is no stranger to Ushahidi. He provided us with important guidance from day one, which is why we asked him to join our Board of Advisors early on. He comes to us with considerable experience in the field of conflict early warning and crisis mapping, having consulted extensively with major international organizations around the world. He co-directs the Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and recently co-founded the International Network of Crisis Mappers (CM*Net) which was launched at the first International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM) which he co-organized.

At Ushahidi, Patrick is working with the rest of the team to ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of crisis mapping and scale in a big way. His responsibilities include data visualization, crisis mapping analysis, Swift River and the management of strategic partnerships with major international organizations in the humanitarian, human rights and media space. We will also rely on Patrick to help us identify new opportunities as we continue to grow.

Like all of us at Ushahidi, Patrick has African roots. He was born in Cote d’Ivoire and raised in Kenya. He has also worked in Ethiopia, Morocco and the Sudan.

Caleb Bell: Design

Caleb is a designer that answered my call (plea?) for help back in the early days of Ushahidi. At that time we badly needed someone to help us do some backend design for the admin area of the application. He was game and within a couple days we had a working system that we could expand and grow off of easily. Since then, he’s been involved in our first annual strategic tech meeting and a couple side-projects for Ushahidi, all along making sure our app looks pretty… :)

Caleb hacking a newer design for Ushahidi
[That's Caleb working on concepts for a new, simpler and skinnable frontend UI for Ushahidi.]

Like most everyone else, Caleb also grew up in Kenya and has an understanding of designing for the challenges that Africa can provide. He’s got a couple roles at Ushahidi:

  • First, developers no longer need to worry about the look/feel of their work. They can focus on functionality and Caleb will integrate the changes into the UI for both the admin area and the frontend.
  • Second, Caleb will help me with keeping the organization’s site updated, especially as we work to put a real CMS behind it.
  • Third, he’ll be working with Juliana and the teams involved with the end-user community, where he’ll help with creating materials that can be used for marketing and messaging around new deployments of Ushahidi all over the world.

Please join me in welcoming Patrick Meier and Caleb Bell to Ushahidi!

11 Responses to “Getting Better at Design and Crisis Mapping”

  1. Hey, I’m very impressed with your platform. In fact I’m thinking of using it on a project.

    One further areas that need work in my opinion (although I have to stress i have only looked at current live implementations and not downloaded it yet)

    ‘Service discovery’ seems to be an issue. None of the live examples seem to be very active or have many current updates. And I think I know why. Many people out there on the ground don’t know of the service and even if they do it’s not top of mind. Thats because even though mobile are ubiquitous, mobiles without modern browsers are crap at exposing users to the right services (unlike sitting in front of your laptop).

    I am wondering what could make a difference and thinking, should you not integrate this with the Twitter API (and perhaps Facebook connect). Would that not make it easier and present opportunities for viral spread of the use of Ushahidi?

  2. Woah !!! This is really good news – both Caleb and Patrick have been great to the team and I look forward to some great strides in the next year :)

  3. Ory Okolloh

    Wessel, excellent point. We have spent much of the year focusing on software rebuild and design, we are now shifting our focus towards community engagement and helping implementers “market” their deployments, share their experiences etc.