On October 25, professors Catie Bailard, Matt Hindman and Steven Livingston spoke at the National Democratic Institute on their analysis of the open-source event mapping platform, Ushahidi Crowdmap.
In collaboration with InterNews, a Washington-based NGO that pursues media development initiatives around the world, Bailard, Hindman, Livingston and SMPA professor Nikki Usher analyzed almost 13,000 Crowdmap deployments over 2010-2011. Crowdmap allows users to plot events to a digital map so that the information can be used in a way somewhat similar to the way they would use information provided by conventional news media coverage. The key difference is found in the self-generated nature of crowdsourced information platforms such as Ushahidi. It is perhaps best thought of as News 2.0.
For example, in the aftermath of a natural disaster Crowdmap allows victims to text in reports of their location and condition. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, thousands of such reports, all displayed on an Ushahidi digital map, helped responders in their efforts to get much needed aid and medicine to victims of the disaster. In the language of the SMPA study, information and communication technology lowers collaboration costs and facilitates collective action initiatives in a wide variety of circumstances, including disaster response. Ushahidi means witness or testimony in Swahili. Crowdmap is a hosted version of the Ushahiidi software. The SMPA/InterNews report will be published soon, so stay tuned for more information.