SXSW Interactive 2010: Interview With Ushahidi’s Patrick Meier
During our recent experience at SXSW Interactive, Scott Laningham and I had the opportunity to visit with a number of interesting folks and record their thoughts in a series of podcasts at the event.
One interview in particular had to do with Ushahidi, a social incident mapping and visualization technology that was used to identify and visually represent incidences of election-related violence in the 2007 Kenyan elections.
Patrick Meier, Ushahidi’s director of crisis mapping and strategic partnerships, explained that the name Ushahidi in Swahili means “witness”…as in, to bear witness.
In the 2007 Kenyan elections, the tool was quickly developed to allow the collection of user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes, and deaths and have them plotted them on a map to allow for quick assimilation of the data and to redirect precious police and election monitoring resources.
More recently, Ushahidi has been used for crisis management in the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes, with the tool helping gather thousands of messages reporting trapped victims, and distributing the workload so that workers in a situation room in Boston were helping IM U.S. Coast Guard officials in Haiti to determine where to search for victims.
Patrick’s interview will make you rethink your own preconceived notions of crowdsourcing, and illustrate how visual mapping tools can not only help us get from point A to B…but how they can save lives and help protect the innocent in times of crisis, natural and manmade.
You can listen to the podcast here (16:40, MP3).