(8 pages of text)
As the co-founder of a software platform called Ushahidi, Ory Orykolloh watched the unfolding catastrophic earthquake crisis in Haiti and had to decide how her company’s crisis-mapping software could assist international authorities as they moved into Haiti to provide help and relief. Ushahidi was developed as an open-sourced mash-up platform combining Google Maps with publicly reported (text-based) incidents of election violence during the Kenya 2007 elections; thus, the system effectively managed to bypass government censorship. Expansion into other uses during both political crises and a variety of national/international events provided opportunities for growth. With Haiti, Ushahidi’s management team had to consider how its software could be used to provide assistance during a catastrophe like an earthquake.
The case focuses students on developing knowledge and analytical capability of qualitative issues like citizen reporting, democratizing information, increasing public transparency and accuracy of information, and holding governments accountable during unstable political events. It also provides an opportunity for students to discuss the open-source movement and the flexibility of such technology towards achieving important social aims.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
Global, Africa, Small, 2010
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