On April 23, 2010, along with the Map Kibera team, I organized a focus group on the Voice of Kibera (VoK) platform, which is designed to be a place for Kibera residents to post reports and information relevant to them and their community. VoK is a recent initiative of Map Kibera. The main goal of the focus group was to get feedback from people who live and work in Kibera with various NGOs and CBOs. We had a great group of participants who openly shared their ideas about the usefulness of the platform, especially in regards to the SMS reporting mechanism and how to publicize the site in Kibera. Participants were excited about using the site to post reports about their community work and suggested that it could be used to post job and other opportunities. VoK has a short code (3002), provided to them by their partners at the Social Development Network (SODNET), and the site uses a customized Ushahidi platform featuring videos, photos, a Twitter stream and a separate SMS Reports box. The SMS can be used to send information about Kibera-based organizations, opinions on local businesses and services, problems encountered in the community, and things that are happening in the community (both good and bad).
After introducing Map Kibera and the Voice of Kibera site, we broke into small groups to test the site, enter new reports, and discuss SMS reporting.
When we reconvened in the large group, we heard great suggestions from each group including asking cyber cafe operators to put VoK as the homepage on the computers as a way of publicizing the site and making it more readily available to Kiberans, harnessing the networks that each participant has, building relationships with local media, including Kibera Journal and Pamoja FM, and starting an Editorial Board to make key decisions regarding how the site will run. The first Editorial Board meeting will be held this Friday, May 7th, to begin moving forward with the project. If the enthusiasm from the workshop carries over to the next meeting, VoK will be off to a great start.
More information of the workshop and updates on VoK can be found on the Map Kibera Wiki.