Every once in a while I find out that a project I’ve been following is actually open source and hosted on GitHub. Just recently I found out that a great project called Ushahidi is hosted here. Ushahidi is a PHP platform that crowdsources crisis information allowing anyone to submit reports through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form.
It is a way to aggregate individual reports (text, photos or video) sent in by people on the ground during a crisis or event such as an election or disease outbreak. It helps gather and visualize that data quickly and easily.
Ushahidi was originally developed to track reports of violence during the post-election unrest in Kenya of early 2008. Since then the platform has been used for many different applications including monitoring federal elections in Mexico, tracking global Swine Flu outbreaks and tracking medical supply stockouts in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.
So, if you are going home for the holidays in a few weeks and want a project you can hack on to help save the world a little, in the spirit of giving, take a look at Ushahidi. If PHP isn’t your thing, there is work on iPhone and Android apps and there is a comprehensive API to interact with installations of the platform – write a client library in your favorite language.
If you’re interested in helping, you can contact the team with the contact form on their website, or take a look at the developer wiki to see what needs doing. Or, of course, you can just fork one of the projects and send a pull request once you’ve added your awesome.