At Web4Dev, Erik Hersman, the White African, spoke about Ushahidi, a free, open-source platform to crowdsource crisis information. It allows anyone to submit crisis information through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form.
It has been used to report on the botched elections in Kenya, the DRC and the war in Gaza.
The next big thing for Ushahidi: how to overcome information overload. Taking all of the SMS reports and filtering the huge amount of data. Since the Mumbai bombings they’ve been working on a project called SwiftRiver, which is focussed on making sense of information received in the first 3 hours of a crisis. There are machine and people ways to filter the information — they’ve chosen the people approach.
The motto of the project: if it works in Africa, it will work anywhere.