Dead Ushahidi: A Stark Reminder for Sustainability Planning in ICT4D
By now, you've heard of Ushahidi, the ICT4D darling for crowdsourcing map data. You also may suspect there is frothy hype around it, mapping, and GIS in general. Well just to keep it real, we bring you Dead Ushahidi, a crowdsourced list of maps that are definitely deceased. A Ushahidi cemetery if you will.
While we do not claim credit for the idea or execution, we do celebrate it's point: "Trying to crowdscource a map without a goal or strategy is well, just a map, and pretty soon a dead map." Sadly that happens all too often. An anonymous source tells us there are "tens of thousands" of Ushahidi maps with less than a dozen reports, dead maps littering cyberspace.
How can you escape the Ushahidi dead pool? Here is 5 ways to succeed where others have failed, as written by the Dead Ushahidi authors:
What makes a crowd-sourced map live rather than die a slow death?
- Careful thinking about how a crowdsourced map will advance your goals is essential. Until you can answer the question clearly: "Why will this map lead to the change I desire," don't set one up.
- A map is only as good as the data in it. Bad data, unclear categories, and no quality control = bad map.
- A map should have a clearly-defined focus for report collection. A map that aims to crowdsource and map all human rights violations and crimes everywhere in the world in real-time is doomed from the start. We call that a stillbirth.
- Without a community to draw from and intensive outreach and marketing, people won't know about a crowdsourced map, why they should care about it let alone care enough to submit a report. (Many of the maps in the cemetery have few submitted reports, making the mapmakers look kind of pathetic.)
- A map with no reports is sad. We consider it on life support and soon on its deathbed, so watch out. Consider populating the map with reports from your community (make sure that you have one and know how to reach it.) Yep, just because you built it doesn't mean they will come.
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