The Ushahidi engine (version 1) is being used to map reports of the current xenophobic attacks happening in South Africa on a site called UnitedforAfrica.co.za. The attacks are a product of foreigners moving across the borders, especially Zimbabwean, and encroaching on the lives of South Africans. I suggest reading this BBC article for more information.
Quirk, a web marketing agency in Cape Town is leading this charge, with Tim Shier, Rafiq and David Kobia all pulling VERY late nights last night to make this come together. Quirk will act as administrators on this build, and the Ushahidi team will step away from it as soon as the build is done.
The most important part of this type of campaign is to get the word out. SMS, email, call your friends and family all over South Africa and get them to tell their friends so that more reports come in. The more that come in, the better the tool.
A couple resources for this crisis in South Africa:
- A list of organizations that can/are helping in this situation
- Afrigator’s xenophobia page aggregating blog posts and news articles on the crisis
- BizCommunity’s aggregation of online coverage of xenophobia attacks
- The Times “Flames of Hate” video
- Recent Google News results
So, what’s up with this “Ushahidi engine”?
As you might/might not be aware, we’ve worked up a plan for a new version of Ushahidi (v2) that would replace what we’ve done as a free and open source tool for crowdsourcing crisis information and then visualizing that on a map. We’ll be presenting that idea next week at the NetSquared challenge in California, and are already building the basic architecture for that. This collaboration with the guys in South Africa ends up being a perfect example of the need for a rapid deployment tool like Ushahidi.
What we could use is more developers from around the world to help us. We already have a good dozen who have committed to helping in some way or other, ranging from the Bay area in California to Kenya to South Africa and Malawi. If you’d like to take part, please get in touch!