I am fascinated by the possibilities of interactive mapping for social activism. The most enthralling example I’ve found is Ushahidi, an Internet platform created by Kenyan bloggers during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008. Ushahidi offered the possibility to report human rights violations and other incidents via test-messaging, email and Twitter to the website, that then were mapped onto Google Earth with a timeline of the events, creating a global picture of the Kenyan crisis. Since then, the experience of Ushahidi has been replicated in other parts of the world, like South Africa, DR Congo, and most recently in Haiti, where people can report emergencies and missing persons. The software was even applied to track the swine flue or wildlife in Kenya. It is a great combination of citizen journalism, and digital social activism.
First of all, I’d like to understand better the mechanisms of Ushahidi, the way it is linked to other softwares like FrontlineSMS, and explore how it can be used for other causes. Do you know similar projects? I’ve found several examples of activist mapping, like Acces Denied (map of Global Voices that monitors government censorship of the Internet,) or Crime Reports (local crime information and maps,) but none of them is based on user-generated content!
I’ve also got various concerns: How is the information checked? What about the spread of false information? And what about the security/identity of the informer?