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'Peace Technologies' Enable Eyewitness Reporting When Disasters Strike

By Paul Hyman

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 57 No. 1, Pages 27-29

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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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