We are in the business of big data. Our products transform a deluge of information across the world and make them meaningful to communities around the world. We design systems and tools that curate information that we hope to make impactful to people in terms of crisis.
Deployment of the week
This week, we recognise the efforts of the team at Volontaires internationaux en soutien aux opérations virtuelles (VISOV), who are crowdsourcing images of destruction and aid deployment in the wake of the Typhoon Yolanda in Philippines. This deployment, much like all other efforts being ran out there, will go a long way in helping to alleviate the suffering of the Filipino people.
A week into announcing our developer release of Ushahidi v3, the .ke based team set out to introduce the local dev community to the platform, and get them involved in development at an early stage. We took an unconference style approach to this meetup, trying to get the audience to decide what they would like to know about v3 within the one and a half hour timeframe set for the meetup. One group dove into v3 use cases and features that would need to be developed to suit arising needs, while the other group got their hands dirty figuring out the technical framework of the recent release and how to jump into the code.
Later on in the day, we hosted an online demo and discussion on v3 development with lead devs Robbie and Linda. For all those who missed it, below is a recording of the session.
Now, we know that this release may be geared mostly towards developers, but that doesn’t mean that non-devs cannot contribute.
- The QA team could use help coming up with test cases and testing on mobile devices too.
- We’ve got a demo site up and running – take it for a spin! Do keep in mind that this is still largely a work in progress.
- Got a feature you think would be useful that isn’t on the roadmap? Add it to the v3 wishlist
If you’re a developer and want to jump in, here’s how to get started:-
- Download and Install the platform (and let us know if the instructions made sense too?)
- Set up a development build
- Follow our developer processes to submit changes
- Join in on our discussion
These are the first of many more physical and online events that we are set to hold in the lead up to a full release of the platform, with plans on highlighting more of the Quality Assurance, Design and User Experience aspects of building out 3.0 as well. The Kenyan devs are set to hold an API walkthrough within the next few weeks, and the v3 team is holding a planning call on Monday 11th November, 2013 at 9p.m EAT (let us know if you would like to be added into this call).
Deployment of the Week
This week, we applaud the efforts of Vultures Namibia to conserve rare species of vultures in Namibia by reporting their re-sightings and recovery!
Vote for Ushahidi
Ushahidi has been nominated for the HiiL Innovating Justice awards, as an innovative justice initiative making a difference in the world. Help us out by voting here!
OKFN data expedition in Bangladesh
If you are a mapper in Bangladesh, or interested in Bangladesh, and want to help map garment factories in OSM to provide a real comprehensive transparent picture of what’s going on, sign up the OKFN data expedition on October 18-20. In Bangladesh, contact Nurunnaby Chowdhury <nurunnabyhasive AT gmail DOT com> for information on the local venue
Data Ethics Hangout with Chris Albon
We’re set to hold our next topical research hangout on the 24th of October, 2013. This hangout will be hosted by Ushahidi’s Chris Albon, revolving around Ethics on Data sharing. Stay tuned for more details in the coming week
Ushahidi Community Developer Call
Join us, on 14th October, 2013 at 9p.m EAT, for our first community developer call after the summer break, and let’s talk all things API, Ushahidi v3 and more
Into the Code
You’ve probably noticed a lot of activity on the Ushahidi v2.x github repository, thanks to our amazing community developer, Diogo Freire. He’s been doing a lot of amazing work on maintenance and bug fixing in the lead up to the next release. Version 2.7.2 is expected to be released in November, after the developer release of version 3.0 of Ushahidi.
Speaking of version 3.0, the team’s been hard at work on polishing out the API and integrating it with the UI. Work in sets and media endpoints is to be complete in the coming weeks. Our QA team is also building out a test plan, to be shared with our community in the coming weeks.
You can now post to crowdmap via Email AND SMS. These features have been recently formalised into the platform.
Brian and Evan have been hard at work, polishing out features and optimising the platform e.g fixing Instagram autopost issues. Henry also added in new features into the new crowdmap android app – like adding filters when adding photos. Feel free to test all the new awesome stuff out and share feedback with us via our github issue page.
Happy Week Folks!
There is power in data. Data can tell important stories, from which politicians are corrupt to which corporations are breaking the law. However, like any good story its power is dependent on being compelling to audiences — being a page-turner.
Take a look at the table above that I got from Google Images through a quick search. I have not read the article or book that this table came from, I don’t know the author(s), and I don’t know the subject area (but it appears to be either political science or economics). Despite that, I (as a quantitative political scientist) can tell you a lot from this table: what factors the creator cared about and what he or she didn’t, what they was trying to find out, what factors were important and what wasn’t, and much more. Simply put, to people with a certain data skill-set, this table — with no other information — tells a clear story. However, alone the table’s story won’t have an impact. Why? Because it isn’t compelling.
While I believe that everyone should have at least some basic training in data science (and that is all you would need to read the table above), the reality is that now and in the foreseeable future that is a pipe-dream. The majority of people, particularly those in positions of power, can not read the story that the table above is presenting. To them, it is neither accessible nor interesting.
In contrast, take this image below. The image contains no real data, it is all made up at random. It has no story to tell, no lessons to teach us. However, every person reading this post can understand this image and tell us what is happening. More importantly, with its beautiful layout and sharp visuals it is actually interesting; you want to look at it. This is the power of good design.
Why am I telling you this? Because the simple fact is that if both the table and image were placed on the desks of policymakers, journalists, business leaders, and politicians, it would undoubtedly be the image that interested them — that enticed them to examine it and kept their attention all the way through. The image’s ability to be compelling means that at the end of the day, it is going have a much stronger chance of having a real impact.
At Ushahidi, data is our bread and butter. However, we also believe in the importance of great design. We have amazing designers and we invest a lot of time and energy into making visually stunning products. This attention to esthetics isn’t some vain impulse. It is because we know the ability of good design to make products and the data they produce compelling and, ultimately, matter.