Kenyan Software Standout in Major Elections

They say necessity is the mother of all invention. Kenyans know this too well and are able to rise above predicament at any given time. Creativity plays a large role.

A good example is after the 2007/8 post-election violence, some tech-savvy innovators created a crowdsourcing software called Ushahidi. Its prime purpose was to allow users to report violence stints in remote areas where the media was unable to cover. With these, one could easily map out the effects of the senseless violence and pinpoint the exact areas affected.

Fast forward to this day 2016, the team has not been snoozing on the project. The software is global and has its tentacles in 8 countries. Reaching international status, it is being proved handy to monitor election malpractice (largely in Africa), human rights abuses and environmental issues. The numbers are equally staggering, reaching over 159 countries, a whopping 120 million people and over 31 languages.

The just concluded USA historic election (where Trump won), Ushahidi created a special website to ensure smooth voting process. One would be able to report ballot paper availability, difficulties in accessing voting booth for elderly and disabled or just give an okay. Claims of rigging ran rife so the website had a role to play among the independent observers present.

Nat Manning, the Ushahidi COO pushing the project was quoted stating he had high hopes that the process would be great. Also pointing the importance of the tool, “It allows regular citizens to raise their voice. It puts a lot more eyes out there. And importantly, it creates a feeling of transparency and engagement”.

We shall be ardently waiting to catch the engagement level of the Ushahidi tool soon as the election analysis is out to know that a Kenyan initiative can be beneficial on a larger platform.

In the past, the Ushahidi mapping tool has been used in Benin, Mozambique, and Nigeria (where voter turnout increased by 8%) to monitor elections. It will also come in play in Congo DRC in the August 2017 polls which are deemed sensitive.

The Developers give the tool as a free service to organizations to install on their servers. They only pay when extra service is required, e.g. customization, ease of use by end users and technical support.

By next year when Kenya goes to the ballot, Ushahidi will be instrumental in the pre-planning, execution and post-election analysis and data segmentation. Kudos to the team.

 

 

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