Shout Out Series Issue #1: Rockefeller Foundation – You Rock

Shout Out Series Issue #1: Rockefeller Foundation – You Rock
By Nathaniel Manning, Managing Director of Business Strategy.
This is the first in a series we are calling “Shout Outs.” We want to thank all those who have truly supported us over the past years. Your help has meant the world.
 We never made a public announcement when Rockefeller Foundation granted us $1.2M in late 2013.  This grant was to fund three programs, CrisisNet, Resilience Network Initiative, and the core Ushahidi Platform. Over the past 1.5 years we have made huge progress on all three. Rockefeller has led the vanguard for investment in resilience, and each of these programs are innovative projects in this sphere.
CrisisNet’s vision is to create the firehose of crisis data for developers and data scientists. The problem being that when a developer or data scientist wants to build an app or better understand a crisis, they can spend weeks of their time researching data sources, cleaning it up, normalizing it, and aggregating APIs before they can even begin their project. This is a problem that we experience personally all the time, so we wanted to shorten that time considerably for us and others in our industry with CrisisNet. There are currently 600 users who have registered for CrisisNET including UN and NY Times staff members. These users have registered over 400 applications including a Ebola tracking map by the World Policy Journal, a ReliefWeb report tracking Ebola, and a Nigerian election dashboard created by the Stakeholder Democracy Network. Over the last half-year these users have made over 138,000 requests for CrisisNET data.
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(The chart shows the number of confirmed and suspected cases in every country touched by the virus.)
CrisisNET’s crisis data repository currently holds over 1,600,000 data points, including everything from social media reports from Syria to UNHCR refugee camp population estimates in Kenya. These datum come from 3100 individual sources including Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, NGOs, and Ushahidi deployments. Each week in 2014, an average of 31,000 new crisis relevant data points were ingested, processed, and made available by CrisisNET. In 2015 we increased that number, and last week almost new 100,000 data points were ingested by CrisisNET.
The Resilience Network Initiative (RNI) supports the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge and provides  an opportunity for previously marginalized community groups to amplify their voice in city government. In Semarang, Indonesia, RNI’s work with a local artists’ collective has resulted in the “Peta Kota” or “City Map” project. In just two months, Peta Kota has used crowdsourcing as a strategic approach to map almost 50 thousand buildings, roads, and points of interest in the city (view some of their work in OpenStreetMap). These data are open – free of licensing restrictions – and can be used by city officials to transform their city to be more resilient to tidal and flash floods, but are also freely available to the private sector, local universities, or other stakeholders to spur commercial or academic uses of the data. Peta Kota’s use of the Ushahidi platform will allow city officials to acquire highly detailed citizen reporting about the resilience challenges and existing capacity of each neighborhood: information that too often remains hidden from view.
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By using innovative technology that empowers citizens to create open data, RNI provides a way for communities to better understand and convene around the stresses and shocks that they face.The program is currently working with other cities in the 100 Resilient Cities network to  scale and replicate the growth of cohesive and engaged communities using the open tools and methods that created with Rockefeller’s support. .
The Ushahidi Platform has been rebuilt from the ground up with Rockefeller’s support. We have run a number of user experience studies over the past year and from that built out a design framework that we believe will dramatically improve the usability our of flagship tool.
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So Rockefeller Foundation, you have our thanks. Your support has helped to put powerful open source tools into the hands of citizens and cities. It has helped build a single source for crisis data from thousands of sources, helped Indonesian citizens to map resilience challenges and neighborhood capacity in their city and relay that information to city officials, and increased resiliency by making information easier to collect, understand, and act upon.
Rockefeller Foundation, you rock.