Through Ushahidi, Juliana Rotich gives citizens a powerful tool to report eye-witness accounts as they’re happening. The software democratizes news and allows everyone to crowd-source information onto interactive maps.
“Tech is not just about ‘me;’ tech is about how ‘we’ as a collective can figure things out.”
With over a decade of experience working in tech, Juliana Rotich co-founded Ushahidi to collect and map reports of violence during Kenya’s 2008 post-election crisis. Originally from Kenya herself, Juliana and a team of helpers created free and open-source software that allowed crowd-sourced data to be collected, visualized and utilized. Kenyan citizen journalists were able to submit news and generate an interactive map of the action.
Organizations and citizens have since adapted the software to organize humanitarian relief efforts during the 2010 Haitian earthquake and the 2011 Japanese tsunami, though the technology isn’t limited to use during crises only. The free software, Crowdmap, invites users anywhere to collectively gather and visualize information, whether it’s used to monitor elections, report on disasters and conflicts, curate local resources, or document a zombie invasion (it’s been done).
Empowered through data, individuals can become more engaged in the civic process and conceivably affect the development of their communities to more closely reflect their desires. “Our role at Ushahidi is making sure there’s no lack of technology to address citizen’s concerns," Juliana told PBS.org. "Citizens can also be empowered to assist each other if the data is provided in an open way.”
Juliana is a Technologist, African Futurist, TED Senior Fellow and a prolific blogger who frequently speaks at events across the globe.