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Using Open Source Technology to Support coordination of COVID-19 response efforts

Ushahidi is supporting communities respond to COVID-19 by providing an open source tool for mutual aid coordination and collaboration

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Ushahidi is a nonprofit organization that provides equal access to technology, information, and skills for people to effectively solve problems in their communities. We build and use open source technology tools that allow for large scale data collection and management, making it easy to quickly understand and respond to crucial information. Ushahidi has been used for 12 years whenever there’s a crisis or disaster, but with a worldwide pandemic, we’re busier than ever. Requests for support from around the world have sky-rocketed, and we need a way to support the organizations and communities that are using Ushahidi to communicate and coordinate their responses.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen Ushahidi emerging as the tool of choice for actors working in tracking, support, and response to the crisis. We have found ourselves at the center of providing support to communities and organizations engaged in the response, by providing an easy to use tech tool that can support effective mapping, tracking and coordination, and linkages to fill informational gaps and inform decision making.

In the last month, we have seen over 520 COVID-19 related deployments of the Ushahidi platform created. Some of these include efforts by communities self organising to support high risk/vulnerable populations during lockdown (mutual aid), and others to self-reporting on testing(or lack of) and symptoms of COVID-19 across the globe. More importantly, we have seen our tool being used to support increased coordination of community actors by supporting the efficient matching of suppliers and those in need.

More examples can be found on our COVID-19 page:, 

What is the need are you focusing on?

Ushahidi has developed an open source crowdsourcing tool that helps communities self organise to provide mutual aid, document COVID-19 testing experiences, and create visibility on where to access essential resources for vulnerable communities. It helps fill informational gaps by tapping into the collective intelligence of people directly affected by the crisis, to inform decision making such as what resources to avail to high risk and vulnerable groups, or where to set up testing centers. Needs are identified, & acted upon in a coordinated & efficient manner. We are also helping governments and local industry actors to coordinate relief distribution efforts.

What is the best example of business adaption you’ve seen in response to COVID-19?

Safe Hands Kenya is a broad coalition of Kenyan corporates and several community organizations offering mass sanitation to the public alongside free sanitizers, soap, masks, and surface disinfectants. The collective initiative seeks to ensure access to proper sanitation and information. Working with a team of inputs providers, tech firms, distribution specialists, manufacturers, community NGOs, and behavior change experts, the project has created an IoT-enabled supply chain platform where complex logistics are planned out carefully. Relying on a homegrown strategy to create local solutions for local problems, the alliance is using technological solutions to expand to hundreds of thousands of retailers who are directly linked to customers. Members have agreed to operate within the three principles of zero profit margin, invest in speedy delivery processes, and ensure maximum reach is achieved.

What is your profession?

A technologist, community builder, open-source software advocate who's passionate about building & using technology tools to positively impact lives.

Where are you located (country)?

Kenya. With a team of 11 people that is 75% female in 5 countries (Africa, EU & Latin America).

Where are you located (region)?

  • Eastern Africa

Which industry do you work in?

  • Activist/Community Leader/Organizer
  • Technology

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your submission? Are you participating in these efforts?

Yes, we are aware. These include (1). Frena La Curva: - who have spurred a movement in the Hispanic community in Europe and Latin America creating a Frena la curva model deployed in over 14 countries so far. (2). - that gives Frontline heroes a quick and easy way to communicate what personal protective equipment they need, when and where they need it in the UK. It's an open source project built off of Ushahidi.


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