Barcamp Nairobi 2010: Day 2

Today is only a half day at Barcamp Nairobi 2010. We’re getting underway, and there are 5 talks so far:

  • 9 colloquial Kenyan languages in Whive.com by John Karanja
  • Live mapping using OpenStreetMap and GPS units by @mikel
  • “Build a Drupal site in 20-minutes” by @batje
  • “Geek girls in Nairobi” by the Akirachix
  • Explaining the Kenya ICT Board $3m grant by @Kaburo
  • Google Geo API

The $4 Million Kenya ICT Board Grant

“US$ 4 Million of the proceeds for Grant Applications for the development of digital content and software applications.”

It was announced 10 days ago, and there are already 500+ applications. Final applications are due by July 19, 2010.

$10k for individuals and $50k for organizations. That is a Kenyan citizen and above 18 years old, for companies, you have to be registered in Kenya. You have to show your resume/CV for the leadership team.

The application can be done online.

Two main areas of the grant:

  1. Government services and applications (5 ministries)
  2. Any innovative ideas around digital content and software

The first 46 grants will be handed out to both private and public sector ideas and applications. More grants will be given out to companies (30) than private individuals (16), but there will be an equal split between the two groupings.

Grants announced on August 15th, 2010, at which point they will be working on contracts. The grant will be given out in 3-4 tranches, starting in October 2010. The funds have to be spent within 12 months. There will only be 46 grants given out this year (2010).

A single company can apply in multiple rounds for a grant, but will only be given one grant per round.

What protection will your idea be given? The team looking at and reviewing/judging the applications will be signing NDAs. There are 9 judges who will decide the winning proposals, and they do plan on sharing the names of those individuals.

Some people are worried that if they have a new idea, and they’re working for a company, that that company will own it and not them. Kaburo Kobia is suggesting that if they believe that is really the case, then the individuals should break away before then.

If you have any questions, make use of their website, send them an email at grants@ict.co.ke, call them at +254-020-2211960 or visit them on the 12th floor of Teleposta towers.

Google Maps API

IMG_0978

Mano is one of the top engineers from the Google Maps team and he was flown out to Kenya specifically for Barcamp Nairobi. He’s giving an overview of what can be done using their API, well beyond the normal pointal use that we see all the time.

I asked him what they’re doing about offline mapping, especially for those of us in Africa who don’t have the same access to connectivity. Mano says that they’re concerned about offline maps as well, which they don’t offer, but not for the reason I suggested. Instead, they see most of the people in the world accessing maps via mobiles, so they need to be able to let that happen when data capability is not within range.

Ushahidi Funding and a New Website!

Most of June I spent in Kenya, much of that time talking to developers and getting ready for the next big Ushahidi push. During that time there was a new article about Ushahidi being one of the “Ten Startups to Watch” in the Technology Review, which was exciting for us to say the least!

July and August have been spent working hard on getting the application rebuilt, the site redesigned and creating partnerships with other organizations. September is about launching the NEW Ushahidi.

A New Website

Now we’re off and running with a new website design, live today, that shows how our goals and focus have changed since things blew up in Kenya. (get a new Ushahidi button for your site.)

Funding

I’m very happy to announce that we’ve secured more than the $25,000 prize money from NetSquared (which has allowed us to do so much already). We have also just secured a grant of $200,000 from Humanity United!

Humanity United is an independent grantmaking organization committed to building a world where modern-day slavery and mass atrocities are no longer possible. They support efforts that empower affected communities and address the root causes of conflict and modern-day slavery to build lasting peace.

There is an obvious fit between Humanity United and Ushahidi, after all, we were founded on the same beliefs back in January in Kenya. Though we’re creating the Ushahidi engine as an open source project, our goal remains to see it used to better understand, give warning of, and recover from mass atrocities.

The Vision

Ushahidi is moving from being a one-time mashup covering the post-election violence in Kenya to something bigger. We are setting out to create an engine that will allow anyone to do what we did. A free and open source tool that will help in the crowdsourcing of information – with our personal focus on crisis and early warning information.

We see this tool being used in two ways:

  • First, to crowdsource crisis information by creating an online space that allows “everyday” people all over the world to report what they see during a crisis situation, and whose reports are generally overlooked or under reported by most media and governments.
  • Second, make that software engine free and available to the world, so that others can benefit from a tool that allows distributed data gathering and data visualizations.

We’re aiming to release an alpha version of it in just a few weeks for internal testing, and for alpha testing with pre-screened pilot organizations.

Volunteer Devs, Designers and Others

One of the reasons Ory and I were in Kenya was to talk to developers about helping with Ushahidi. We were overwhelmed with the amount of interest and the quality of the people who stepped up. So far we have a team working on mobile phones, a designers group, and a number of PHP experts. Go ahead and take a look at the development wiki as well.

If you’d like to play a part, get in touch and we’ll see where you can best fit in. You don’t have to be a developer or designer either.

[Credits: Richard “Ochie” Flores for the excellent design, Kwame Nyong’o for the beautiful illustrations, and Ivan Bernat for the spotless HTML/CSS markup.)

Press Release: Ushahidi Funding & New Website (PDF)