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Communications of the ACM


'Peace Technologies' Enable Eyewitness Reporting When Disasters Strike

aerial before and after views of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe

Ushahidi documented the demolition of settlements in Zimbabwe that the government claimed were illegal; human rights groups felt the demolitions were politically motivated. The before (left) and after photos (right) show how the settlement in Porta Farm,

Credit: Digital Globe Inc. / AAAS

When Kenyans went to the polls in late 2007, the voting results were disputed, and ethnically aligned gangs slaughtered more than 1,100 people during weeks of violent unrest. A national media blackout followed.

Within days, an ad hoc group of Kenyan bloggers and software developers created the first instantiation of the Ushahidi ("testimony" in Swahili) platform, enabling people to share instant reports of violent incidents—via video, audio, photos, texts, SMS, emails, Twitter, and Web forms—and to visualize them on a real-time online map, to keep communities informed of the danger.


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