On February 2013 a new Ushahidi deployment called the “Solidarity epidemic“, was released in Greece by the greek section of Doctors Without Borders. The organization has launched a campaign since last November (2012), under the title “Pastilles for the other people’s suffering“, aiming to build awareness to the Greek society on the suffering of people excluded from basic medical healthcare around the world. The “vehicle” for this campaign is a small box containing six pastilles, which can be bought in pharmacies all over the country. These pastilles are plain caramels, which people can buy to ease other people’s suffering. For every box bought, €1 is donated to the organization, funding its projects in Greece and around the world.
Early in the launch phase of the campaign we considered using the Ushahidi platform as a tool to both facilitate participation and networking as well as visualize the campaign’s impact to population across the country. A critical parameter for this decision was the fact that it is an open source software. This meant less cost for us and freedom to configure it according to our needs. It was very important for us that the plan was already in place and Ushahidi eventually managed to play its role as a tool to help achieve these objectives. One month after the platform’s deployment we have managed to gather feedback from over 200 people, which is a relatively small number, taking under consideration the overall campaign impact. We assume that one of the main reasons for this is the poor integration of social media tools with the platform.
Our audience is much more vocal when using Twitter or Facebook, thus it is very important to offer them the appropriate functionality. Recently, thanks to guidance from Brian Herbert, director of Crowdmap.com, we integrated the AddThis plug-in which we consider a step towards the right direction.
In any case we consider the Ushahidi platform a valuable interactive tool to communicate with our supporters. Apart from its apparent functionality, the resulting map will remain online as a “historical testimony” of the campaign’s impact and as a valuable feedback resource for future reference.