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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Working on Ushahidi’s Haiti Response

Last Wednesday started out pretty normal for me. Then it stopped. The US-based members of the Ushahidi team informed me of the earthquake in Haiti, and then the madness began… 6 days later, what’s happened?

Ushahidi is heavily involved in mapping and integrating crowdsourced information from Haiti into an aggregated map that is being used by both people on the ground who need help and those who can provide relief. Teams of volunteers in Kenya, Uganda and the US have been working to solidify the platform and make this effort work. Keep up-to-date in our Situation Room and our blog.

Though it’s not a completely accurate description of what we’re doing, it’s close: We’re running what’s basically the 911 system for Haiti through a local shortcode on the Digicel network 4636. More on the 4636 number and campaign.

How you can help

Pass this message on, try to get it to people, media and organizations IN Haiti:

“In Haiti? Text 4636 (International:447624802524) on Digicel with your location and need. Report emergencies and missing persons.”

Help with open mapping of Haiti campaign through OpenStreetMap, CrisisMapping Network and CrisisCommons via the “Drawing Together” campaign.

Other links you should know about

Missing persons index
In-Haiti relief organization registry
Twitter Tracker/Filter
Crowdsourced facial recognition
OpenStreetMap Haiti
Crisis Commons Haiti
ICT4Peace – useful links wiki

It turns out this little experiment that started two years ago to crowdsource information from the public in Kenya during the post-election violence might have a future after all… 🙂

Thanks for your support, and for your help.


  1. When I first looked at the “experiment”, I knew it had a future. Thumb up for the great work

  2. The response time and continuous effort of the Ushahidi team has been absolutely incredible! Keep on going and just let the rest of us know how we can play our part.

    Erik, you’ve been so busy Kennedy is wondering where you are!

  3. What a wonderful project. Have passed it on to those I think are in need of it or knows of others who are. Know that we are very proud of you in Ghana!

  4. I have to the Ushahidi site and what you guys are doing in just incredible. Congratulations to you and the whole team are in order and be assured that we are doing our small part in spreading this in our own way.

    Kind Regards

  5. It’s a fantastic visualization of the crisis at hand in Haiti. The mapping aspect of Ushahidi is great in giving responders a visual of the affected areas to coordinate efforts as well as (hopefully) coordinate with each other.
    Being the low bandwidth dork that I am, I’ve always been curious as to how those on the ground in a such a situation are able to make use of Ushahidi? If you are without power/internet or are running on emergency generators with a satellite uplink (as many of the responders are in Haiti) for connectivity isn’t it extremely difficult to view the maps? I bring it up as this crisis has jogged my memory as to what you were saying about trying to access Ushahidi when you were in Liberia where bandwidth is typically very narrow.

  6. Hey Hash,
    Good stuff Ushahidi is doing, was pleased to help out, ping anytime you need anything.

  7. You guys are doing a great job, I would really love to help out next time. Proud of the team and everyone involved in this great effort. Good things can come out of Africa.

  8. hey erik– this is great work, where’s the boston sit room; we have portable light units ready and waiting when needed to charge mobile phones in haiti. best, s

  9. Fantastic stuff! Increasingly impressed by the steady developments Ushahidi is making. Congratulations!

  10. Nice, keep posting such stuff in the future as well.

  11. You guys are doing amazing work, Hash. Truly amazing.

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