New Resource – Lessons Learned from Ushahidi-Chile Earthquake Project

Excerpts from the report:

On February 27, 2010 at 03:34 local time, a tremendous earthquake occurred off the coast of Chile, rating a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale and lasting 90 seconds. Seismologists estimate that the earthquake was so powerful that it shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the Earth’s axis by 8 cm. It is estimated that Chile’s territory expanded by 1.2 km² as a result. That afternoon, [Patrick] Meier invited students from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to collaborate [on creating an Ushahidi map of incidents surrounding the disaster].

Within 48 hours, the Ushahidi-Chile initiative was launched and the SIPA Ushahidi Situation Room was created at Columbia University. On the eve of March 1, 2010, the group started working on the platform. By this date, 60 SIPA student volunteers had been trained by SIPA students and Digital Democracy to monitor social and traditional media reports from Chile. On the first day, volunteers manually mapped over 100 incidents. The number of volunteers increased to 150 by the second day who mapped over 700 reports by the third day. By the end of the project, Ushahidi-Chile volunteers manually mapped nearly 1,200 reports.

The short-term goal [of the project] was to improve the capacity to provide emergency support to Chile at the Columbia University level via the Ushahidi-Chile platform. The medium-term goal was to promote the development of Ushahidi as a public resource by transferring ownership of the platform to an established Chilean group, or a newly formed association of individuals. The SIPA team wanted to strengthen relationships with contacts with the Chilean health ministry, IT students in Talca and nonprofit organizations such as Un Techo Para Chile and ChileAyuda in order to identify stakeholders that could take over administration of the Ushahidi platform. The SIPA team also wanted to identify a core group in Chile that had the capacity to scale the project, adapt the platform, and create a clear vision about how the tool could be adapted to their own local needs.

What happened? What were lessons learned? For information; please see USHAHIDI-CHILE GRANT REPORT 16 JAN 2011. Special thank you to the Tufts Ushahidi-Haiti team for sharing all of their lessons learned, Mozilla Foundation for providing a grant, Lehman Library, SIPA & Columbia University volunteers, Internews, Chile Ayuda, and the Ushahidi team for their resources, support, and technical expertise. We hope these experiences and lessons learned can support future disaster relief and crowdsourcing activities.

By Jaclyn Carlsen

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