I just had a meeting with some Knight fellows at Stanford who have some very interesting ideas about how to use Ushahidi in a journalistic context — very exciting stuff.
As a way of giving some quick advice, I drew this little chart in the meeting to show what I think is one of the biggest problems with most launches: the “if you launch it they will come” idea. (As David Kobia puts it.)
The simplicity of Ushahidi setup sometimes leads to some crestfallen administrators.
Just because you bought a domain name and ran the Ushahidi installer doesn’t mean that anyone is going to use they system — and even if you somehow get a lot of reports, you might not be relevant to the existing systems (that is, all the other people who are working on the same problem). So as Ory said in Cape Town, “Don’t get too jazzed up! Ushahidi is only 10% of solution.”
Systems like Ushahidi have turned enormous communication barriers into a trivial installation and training process. But there is a whole other 90% of real work.
One way to solve this: forget about crowdsourcing. Unless you want to do a huge outreach campaign, design your system to be used by just a few people. Start with the assumption that you are not going to get a single report from anyone who is not on your payroll. You can do a lot with just a few dedicated reporters who are pushing reports into the system, curating and aggregating sources.