Twelfth Iterati by Ana Brandusescu
“Crowdmap: Avoiding the Dead Ushahidi graveyard!”
Ana is using Crowdmap to conduct applied field research in Lachine, Montreal, with the active collaboration of community partners via Espaces Lachine. An MA student in the Department of Geography at McGill University, she also has degrees in economics and liberal arts. Ana has plunged deep into geekness, having researched and developed geovisualization tools for trauma low-resource settings (Cape Town, SA) within the web 2.0/geoweb context. In her spare time, she enjoys mapping parties, playing with mobile phone apps and open-source technology that supports dialogue among community members about neighbourhood spaces. The University Spaces (Crowdmap) website was created for a graduate course research project on location-based services and more specifically, mobile phones.
Crowdmap’s technical set-up and management is simpler than that of Ushahidi. However, implementing it still requires consideration of the following: cause, consistency, flexibility and adaptability, cost, and uncertainty. In addition, how will participant anonymity and report content be managed? How can you avoid your Crowdmap ending up on the Dead Ushahidi graveyard?
In 2008, the Ushahidi platform was utilized to collect citizen reports on the post-election violence incidents in Kenya. Ever since, it has become the ubiquitous platform for crisis mapping. It provided a simple and effective method of aggregating reports on an interactive map via mobile phones (SMS), emails, Tweets and/or website reports. Ushahidi has since been applied to other critical events, and natural disasters (for example, the Haiti earthquake). Because of its popularity, Ushahidi created Crowdmap, a cloud-based server version of the platform, free of coding skills and web-server knowledge for less tech savvy administrators. Beyond the accessibility of technology, Crowdmap still requires consideration of the following: cause, consistency, flexibility and adaptability, cost, and uncertainty. How will participant anonymity and report content be managed? How can you avoid your Crowdmap ending up on the Dead Ushahidi graveyard?