It’s been a busy few months for the BRCK team, as now the company has spun outside of Ushahidi and is it’s own commercial entity. I’ve spent a lot of time since November talking to angel and seed investors, as we work to get the company going and try to ramp up more engineers on the team to accelerate the development cycle.
Happy 2014 from the Ushahidi team. We’re back from the holidays, and hope that all of you had a good break.
The International Crisis Mappers Conference(ICCM) is almost here. The event, set to pull in Crisis Mappers from across the globe is slated to happen between November 18th and November 22nd in Nairobi, Kenya. Read more about the full ICCM conference here.
You’re invited to a skill share pre-conference day at the iHub on 19th November, 2013. This pre-conference training day is open to everyone within the community for a small fee($50.00), paid to the ICCM Conference.
What should I expect?
There will be four tracks for the ICCM Training day:-
Participants are free to join a whole track or pick individual sessions within tracks to learn from throughout the day. The general aim is to have hands-on training and allow people to learn/share in smaller groups.
A draft schedule of the day is available here(this will be updated in the coming days), and more details and sessions and the bios of speakers/trainers can also be found here.
How can I join?
Sign up on the Crisismappers Network, then click “ICCM 2013” to find details on registration login. If you have any outstanding questions, send a note to heatherleson AT gmail DOT com with the subject line – ICCM Pre-Conference Help wanted. If you have questions about the full conference – please contact melissa AT crisismappers dot net.
The sessions will offer a breadth of knowledge and expertise from security to research to map and data. There are a few more open spaces for the pre-training day, so be sure to sign up soon before they are sold out, and tell a friend!
Hope you can join us!!
Deployment of the week
We applaud the efforts of Foodsync.org, utilizing the power of technology to reduce waste and connect surplus food to the hungry by mapping out food donations from participating vendors and delivery of these donations to organizations in the US.
Tech Tools for Emergencies
The recent terrorist attacks in Nairobi shook all of us to the core. Thankfuly, all members of the Ushahidi Kenya team and their families are safe. The full team met on Monday, to figure out the best way we could use our tools and skills to help out in emergencies, and came up with two ideas.
Ping App and Blood Donation Kenya
We set up a crowdmap deployment to map out all locations of blood drive centers, in an effort to match these areas with those willing to help, dubbed Blood Donation Kenya.
We also built “Ping” , which is basically a binary, multichannel check-in tool for groups.It’s an easy way for small groups, families and companies to quickly check in with each other. We quickly wireframed out a list of needs, some design basics, and an architecture plan, and got a rough product up and running. The code is on available on Github.
If you’d like to help out with either one of these projects, get in touch with us.
Whenever news breaks out an emergency, government agencies and emergency responders jump into action on the ground and on Twitter, delivering critical and timely information and engaging with citizens. It becomes a source of important, and reliable information. This was the case in the recent Nairobi attacks.It was through twitter that we knew to stay away from the danger zone, of where to donate blood, of where to volunteer, and received updates on the rescue operations from the Kenyan government.
Twitter Alerts, a new feature that helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren’t accessible, was just launched.
Support for Kenya
One of our community members, Justine Mackinnon, set up a crowdmap to collect messages of support and hope for Kenyans from across the globe.
“Many within our tight network of crisismappers and humanitarians around the world were rocked by the cowardly terrorism in Nairobi. It’s difficult to feel so powerless when people you know are hurting. In the spirit of fellowship and solidarity, this crowdmap has been created to share comments of support from around the world to the people of Kenya. Please feel free to add any thoughts you’d like to share. #SFK also works through Twitter ”
How Useful is a Tweet ?
*iHub Research is hosting a cocktail event to discuss “How Useful is a Tweet?: 3Vs Crowdsourcing Framework.”
Africa Hack Trip @iHub
The Africa Hack Trip team is visiting us in Nairobi, and are holding a barcamp and hackathon on the 26th and 27th of September.
— Erik Hersman (@whiteafrican) September 26, 2013
Map Kibera Needs your help
Are you a pro at upgrading Ushahidi deployments? Would you be willing to help our good friends from Voice of Kibera(running v2.0b3) upgrade their deployment? Drop me a line: angela AT ushahidi DOT com
Into the Code
The team at SkyTruth just deployed Ushahidi for tracking damages to fracking equipment during the colorado flooding at http://coflood.skytruth.org. As part of that project they also wanted to publish all report photos as a photo-stream on Flickr. So, they built this plugin to do just that. Feel free to take it for a spin and share feedback!
Happy Week, folks. Stay safe!
As a team, Ushahidi made the conscious decision to redirect its approach to building its core services and products. We collectively declared that design must be involved from the beginning to the end of every lifecycle of everything we launched. Design when stripped bare is the art of communication. Being in the business of crowd source data across the globe there are many challenges constructing an application that will intuitively serve in a diverse range of uses cases, across cultures and varying degrees of accessibility to technology.
In response to these challenges 3.0 begun by asking the right questions to users who have seen Ushahidi’s powerful ability to serve people around the world. Our community of stakeholders, influential people in the Ushahidi and crowdsourcing communities and users of the platform from deployers, contributors and reporters, had the opportunity to participate in thinking about our approach to design.
Gabriel White, Designer and User Interface expert at Small Surfaces, summarized his findings. The big ask from the community was to ensure that the new platform would allow for alternative forms of representing data outside the framework of mapping. In order to better serve the crowd it was important to think about how best to redesign our own understanding of data.
The process of designing 3.0 has been quite arduous because we’ve had to think about how our ability to visually perceive and interpret data is largely affected by cultural dynamics. Redesigning 3.0 has been a process in not only defining what Ushahidi’s visual culture will be in the future but also defining how we can take complex sources of information and make them digestible to our users.
Here are some of the core questions and issues of redesigning 3.0 that we have come across:
- Language : We as a team have been in the process of thinking about how we can create a new language in understanding crowd source data. We have had debates on our own use of language – for example should we stick to terms such as reporting and reporters? How can we translate, not only linguistically, the power of our platform and power of the crowd?
- Layout : The orientation and layout of our platform bridges the gap between functionality and the users. We have had to think about the placement of some of the core functionality. What takes prescedence? How do we allow for alternative layouts for those who might not be interested in mapping but would like to see data visualized alternatively.
- Navigation : How can we make the new platform easy to use and quickly access alternative forms of information.
- Symbols, Color, and Metaphors – Symbols such as icons, metaphors are powerful but will they translate across cultures and degree of exposure to technology and devices. What icons and colors holistically represent the functionalities and features we hope to launch in the future?
- Visualization – One of the most key features of 3.0 will be its ability to include alternative forms of data including images, videos and multimedia. How will be able to incorporate these within our platform?
Ushahidi was born out of crisis, but now as a 5 year old company we are exploring how to best redesign our platform to ensure that we can cater to a global context by extending the design space with improved functionality and workflow. We are quickly moving from being reactionary to how data is processed and consumed to actually redefining how data will be designed in the crowd.