May 2011
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Ushahidi – community-based mapping

Ushahidi's Website

I’ve heard a lot about Ushahidi before (link to the website) – it’s an interactive mapping platform that allows input from the community through various platforms.  It has become extremely well known through its support of the post-election violence in Kenya, emergency response in Haiti, Japan Earthquake response, and a number of other events.

I finally had some time to sit down and take a look.  There are two options:

This reminds me a lot of WordPress (one my most favorite apps, and what I use for this application), where you can install it yourself, or use to have them host it.

In my very limited time, I think there is a role for Ushahidi here at the County (but haven’t totally figure it out yet).  There are a couple of places I can see off the bat:

  • A way for residents to message the County about problems they find (this is like a City-Sourced 311 application notifying us about broken streets, stray animals, etc).
  • An emergency reporting application where residents can notify the County about destroyed homes, fires, broken water mains, hurt people, etc.

LA County GIS Site

So – to start off, I’ve created a little application on the crowdmap platform.  It took me about an hour to build this (figuring out the categories, etc, and playing with it on my iPhone):

You can enter in some information about Trash & Graffiti, Animal issues, or Sidewalks & Streets.

What’s cool about the platform, of course, is that you can also access this same information from your Droid/iPhone/Blackberry/Windows Mobile Device.  Just download the Ushahidi App from their respected app store (you can also check this out:

It’s a bit like what I’m doing with our Location Management System, where we will accept feedback and assign authoritative authors for points of interest around LA County.

I’d love to get your feedback on this – do you see this application as being a platform for the County?  Are you already using something like this?


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