Ushahidi – citizen based mobile documentation

One of the most interesting projects about developing ways to include citizens in crisis reporting is definately Ushahidi. The principle is simply to bring together SMS-communication from citizens and reports in order to secure transparant ways of documenting conflicts in areas such as Uganda, Kenya and Congo. In January al-Jazeera introduced their platform as a part of the Gaza-bombings and with the upcoming Indian elections Ushahidi has developed a multi-featured platform with some of the best Indian developers. 

The uniqueness of Ushahidi is not only the way that crisis and conflicts can be reported realtime, but even more that the information is made accessable real-time to citizens, often through the use of radio. This devlopment proves promissing times for the future efforts of documenting violations and using the information for self-organizing among citizens. The times where governments (and sometimes also NGO´s) could keep information to them selves  in order to maintain control are changing for the better.

Another great example of the opportunities that comes from making huge sums of information availible is the Google-mashup of Proposition 8 funders (the Mormons and other defenders of the “true marriage”), which enabled direct boycot actions throughout California. Simple tools to bring information online truly offer new ways of doing activism.