Crowdsourcing crisis information in Kenya
A group of Kenyan developers are about to launch a new version of software that will help communities map and predict violence.
In Kenya hundreds died and many more were injured in the violence that followed the January 2008 elections. A question that remains is this: What if Kenyans could have predicted where the violence was going to break out? Would the end result have been the same?
A group of Kenyans is betting 'no;' they have created an early warning tool called Ushahidi (meaning "testimony" in Swahili) which they hope will track trends from violence to environmental infractions. A new version of the software is set to come out soon. "The Takeaway" talks to co-founder, David Kobia.
"Ushahidi is basically about citizen reporting," says Kobia. "There was too little information coming out of Kenya at that time."
The system allows mobile phone users, bloggers, and other web users to use a mapping tool to track the current happenings on the ground.
"When you visualize this information, it gives everyone a better perspective of what is really happening, which then helps people where to put resources and how to help. Those kinds of things."
In order to avoid the state seizing control of the reporting, as in Rwanda, Kobia talks of the system's decentralized model. "Crisis reporting has always been a one-to-many kind of thing where you have one body reporting. We are trying to make it a many-to-many situation. We have many people reporting and many people receiving this information."
"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.
More at thetakeaway.org