Ushahidi wins NetSquared challenge, Humanity United grant

Ushahidi -- the developer of a free, open-source tool for sourcing crowd information during crises -- has won the NetSquared Mashup Challenge, earning $25,000 in prize money and a $200,000 grant from Humanity United.

"Credit to the wonderful team that coalesced around the project, we are building something great and demonstrating to the world that we have got serious skills in Africa," said Ory Okolloh, one of Ushahidi's originators.

"Ushahidi is moving from being a one-time mashup covering the post-election violence in Kenya to something bigger," said Erik Hersman, who created Ushahidi along with Okolloh, David Kobia and Juliana Rotich. "We will create an engine that will allow anyone to source information from the field and provide a free and open-source tool that will help in the crowd sourcing of information, focusing on crisis and early-warning information."

The Web site will serve as an international online forum for individuals to report what they witness during crisis situations, bringing to light news that is overlooked by mainstream media and governments.

The software engine will allow for the gathering and distribution of data and visuals, and the information will be available to organizations and individuals around the world.

"We are aiming to release an alpha version of the software engine in a few weeks for internal testing and for alpha testing with pre-screened pilot organizations," Hersman said.

Humanity United is an independent organization committed to building a world where modern-day slavery and mass atrocities are no longer possible. It supports efforts that empower affected communities and address the root causes of conflict and modern-day slavery to build lasting peace, according to Hersman.

"There is an obvious fit between Humanity United and Ushahidi: We were founded on the same beliefs in January 2008 in Kenya," Hersman explained. "Though we're creating the Ushahidi engine as an open-source project, our goal remains to see it used to better understand, give warning of and recover from mass atrocities."

This year's <a href="" target="_blank">NetSquared Conference</a>, comprised a mashup challenge that brought together a unique mix of individuals from the public and private sectors. The mashups entered in the competition were all designed to provide deeper insight into the social issues affecting communities around the world.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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