Our Efforts in Response to Haiti’s Earthquake

We’ve launched Haiti.Ushahidi.com

the Haiti deployment of Ushahidi for the post-earthquake emergency response

The past 20 hours have been sad, exhausting and inspiring. Sad for obvious reasons. Exhausting because many of us have been working straight through with no sleep. But inspiring because of the incredible community of Crisis Mappers.

Here’s what been happening in the community:

InSTEDD is also working on getting +46 numbers for GeoChat, the Emergency Information Service (EIS) and Ushahidi. InSTEDD is also in Santo Domingo deploying EIS. Sahana is exploring the possibility of integrating GeoChat based on some work they did at Camp Roberts a few months ago. InSTEDD is also looking to start testing a Sahana/Mesh4X sync. There are several dozen other ongoing efforts but hard to keep track.


I first heard about the major earthquake around 7:30pm (Boston time) last night and immediately called David Kobia to get an Ushahidi deployment out. I have five close friends from The Fletcher School who have been in Haiti over the past two weeks and it wasn’t until midnight that I finally got word that they were alive.

What happened between 7:30pmm and midnight was inspiring. We went live with a basic deployment within half an hour. I called Chris Blow and got in touch with Brian Herbert. They both worked with David to continue the customization.

I then reached out to our colleagues with the International Network of Crisis Mappers (CM*Net), and their response has been superb. We’ve had over 50 emails back and forth, sharing data, maps, local contact info with regular updates.

Our colleagues from UN OCHA/Colombia were invaluable in helping us identify the appropriate indicators as were many others on CM*Net. OCHA had just carried out an earthquake simulation exercise using their own customized version of Ushahidi so were fully ready to go. They worked directly on the admin side to help us push forward. So many thanks to Jeffrey Villaveces and Luis Aguilar.

At around 3am, our Nairobi team took over with customization and we had an 8am all team meeting to assess the current deployment and evolving situation in Haiti. We now have an international number up for SMS and are working with our colleagues at InSTEDD and at CM*Net to set up a local number as well.

On a personal note, it’s just been remarkable to see so many of the organizations who participated in the International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM) collaborate so pro-actively together. It was also somewhat surreal when someone from Haiti signed up to CM*Net and in their bio wrote:

“I’m in Baudin, Haiti right now ( 18.307606° -72.709935°) so won’t have cell phone service until it comes back but can be reached then at 509-3-823-6859 or michael.ritter2@gmail.com.”

I quickly added Michael to the CrisisMappers Google Group and he has been providing is some valuable information since.


Note, we’re getting a fair number of Twitter messages, but not all of them are useful reports at this time. Mobile networks are down, so the SMS reports are almost nothing. Web-based reports that are coming in seem to be of good quality, as are the few email reports we’re getting.

Haiti reports into the Ushahidi site (20hrs in)

Special Thanks

We’re getting slammed by a bunch of traffic on the site. A big thanks goes out to Jonathan and his team at Cartika Hosting who have helped us stay up all along, have migrated servers for us and spent hours on the phone. Thanks guys!

Organizations helping to get the word out about the Haiti site:

Wall Street Journal
Google Relief
Clinton Foundation
Cartika forums
Washington Post
Global Voices
The Guardian
New York Times Lede blog

60 Responses to “Our Efforts in Response to Haiti’s Earthquake”

  1. I’m glad that the media is covering all the diasters of the world to make people aware of the needs of many people of Haiti and the need of support any way. I’m glad that people are stepping up and giving a hand to another human being. It is sad that it took a natural diaster to get people pour their hearts and money to country of Haiti. Where were these people 6 months ago or even a year ago to help the people of Haiti and i hope it will continue after the media goes away from this natural diaster.

  2. The local schools could take collections – very small, maybe $0.25 VOLUNTARY from students wishing to help. It could help them become aware that disasters can cause situations in the world where help is needed; we are often barely aware of the worlds neediest.

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  4. What had happen to Haiti was so bad.Many who were killed and injured. Most of them lost their homes and love ones. Its all because of catastrophe.

    We should all strengthen our faith and We should always pray that this type of catastrophe wont be happening again.


    I’m glad that the media is covering all the diasters of the world to make people aware of the needs of many people of Haiti and the need of support any way. I’m glad that people are stepping up and giving a hand to another

  6. I see them as an opportunity for someone to help me celebrate my special day (or time) in a way that gives something to a charity that I care. Not a lot to me, it’s not something I often do, but it’s something I take seriously, when a request comes in. I look at charities and the opportunity it allows me to contribute and also say a warm hello to someone, I’m involved.
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