October 5, 2010
Redlands, CaliforniaEsri today announced a partnership with Ushahidi that will improve the collection and use of crowd-sourced information during large-scale emergencies. Ushahidi is a nonprofit organization that allows local observers to submit reports to the Ushahidi Web platform using their mobile phones or the Internet during a crisis. Esri is providing software, services, and training to support Ushahidi's Web platform. The result is better information more readily accessible by decision makers and the public.
Both victims and witnesses of a crisis or disaster can request assistance or report conditions using text messaging capabilities from their personal phone or Internet-enabled device. These reports are collected, geo-referenced and then mapped on Ushahidi's web-based map. Esri and Ushahidi will now work together to make this information available to more people, including those using Esri geographic information system (GIS) technology. This will provide access to Ushahidi information to relief and response organizations that use GIS analysis and modeling for humanitarian response and relief.
"Ushahidi has provided an invaluable information service during crisis events, such as the Haiti earthquake, by supplying a social media platform to capture and communicate critical information for response and relief services," says Russ Johnson, director of public safety solutions, Esri. "Esri wants to support these efforts by making available GIS tools that assist in analyzing, displaying, and publishing critical information on the Ushahidi platform."
"Our strategic relationship with Esri represents an important step forward for our combined user base," says Patrick Meier, director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi. "Esri's technology will provide Ushahidi users with access to extensive GIS data and advanced analytical tools. Esri users will also have the ability to contribute to Ushahidi mapping efforts in more seamless ways and use this data for further analysis."
Ushahidi, which is Swahili for "testimony" or "witness," first established itself by developing a Web site created in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election. The site collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by e-mail and text messages and placed them on maps. The free and open-source software platform developed for the site has since been improved and used for a number of events. For instance, in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, thousands of people sent text messages for help. That information was mapped and used by emergency responders to provide needed resources quickly where they were needed most.
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