Development 2.0 happenings

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The US Agency for International Development will be hosting the Development 2.0 Challenge Awards Ceremony this Thursday. USAID explains the rationale behind the contest:

Mobile technology, including everything from inventive applications for smart phones to simple text messaging, is increasingly ubiquitous in the developing world. USAID challenges you to explore its potential through an innovation for maximum development impact in areas such as health, banking, education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues.

The contest has been narrowed down to 15 finalists, with projects on everything from mapping sexual harassment to early detection of catastrophic flooding. My favorite, though, is a submission called Ushahidi v2 - Mobile.Crisis.Reporting:

Ushahidi is an open source software that solves communication and visualization challenges during crises situations through mapping and crowdsourcing. We are seeking support for further development of mobile functionality.

Perhaps more than any of the other finalists, this project incorporates the concept of crowdsourcing, that elusive but powerful phenomenon of collaboration across large groups. An earlier version of the application suggests the possibilities:

The original version of Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili, was born from the post-election violence that exploded across Kenya earlier in 2008.  The program was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phone, and has been recognized as an innovative mashup and demonstration of citizen reporting.  In May 2008, we shared our code with a group in South Africa that used it to map incidents of xenophobic violence.      


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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