Ushahidi’s new maps, timeline speed up data collection

Ushahidi, a Kenyan tech company, has scaled up its open source software for advocacy, development and humanitarian response by including new map, timeline, and charting tools, that now make it faster to collect and manage data.

Daudi Were, Ushahidi chief executive, said the major design improvements would bring clarity to storytelling within Ushahidi deployments, and are the product of six months of research that included more than 100 users helping to design a streamlined workflow for their teams.

That flow, he added, relies heavily on new “modes” in Ushahidi, which offer more focused interaction with the platform’s most popular visualisations: Map, Timeline, and “Activity” charts.

Ushahidi’s crisis-mapping software was first used in early 2008 to track violent outbreaks related to the disputed 2007 Kenyan election.

It has also been used to co-ordinate everything from disaster relief following the earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 to snow cleanup in New York City this past winter.

“We believe data should not be dehumanised. It should not be difficult to get and it should not be difficult to understand,” Mr Were said.

“These are the problems our users tell us they have. So we design and build our platform to solve these challenges.”

Mr Were said the dramatic changes to Ushahidi today include new features, including support for uploading images to posts and exporting data to CSV, so users can analyse their data outside of their deployment.

“After we launched a re-imagined Ushahidi in October 2015, we spent the next six months listening,” Ushahidi creative director Brandon Rosage said.

“We wanted to stop guessing who the typical Ushahidi user is, and how they needed the software to work. Instead, we asked them to tell us. They helped us assemble simple prototypes and conduct usability studies. And by April 2016, more than 100 users had worked directly with Ushahidi staff to shape what they felt were the most pressing ideas to improve Ushahidi.”

Anyone can get started with the new version of Ushahidi for free, or upgrade their current deployment with additional features. The open source code that powers the latest version of Ushahidi is available to download at GitHub.

Ushahidi improved and lowered the cost of its plans, as well. The “Surveyor” plan now offers storage for unlimited posts and surveys at the reduced price of$99 per month.