There is no doubt in my mind that Ushahidi and Crowdmap are successes in their own right. The platforms fills huge information gap in crisis operations and people know it. But with any success comes the expectation that you continue to evolve the solution to meet the growing demands of the user base. Ushahidi is at this precipice, the one in which users are realizing just how much more powerful the platform can be, and are demanding this.
As one of the leading emergency management agencies in the U.S. (if not the world), the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM) has already realized some of the limitations of Ushahidi. In September 2011, NYC OEM successfully deployed Crowdmap for Hurricane Irene, but realized that they wanted more ways to work with the data collected, not just be able to visualize it on a map.
The use of data remains a big question in the near term. Innovation is no longer about the greatest “whiz bang” technology; it is about how existing technology and capabilities can be applied in the best way. In Ushahidi’s case, it is how organizations and communities can effectively utilize this data to serve their needs.
This is also the crux of human-centered design as well as design thinking. What do you we need it for? What are the use cases? Where are the points of frustration and failure? What is needed now as well as in 2, 3, or 5 years? Priority must be given to these questions in order to maintain the viability of Ushahidi. Otherwise, private sector will innovate beyond, leaving the platform a notable solution of a forgotten era.
As I mentioned earlier, Ushahidi is successful and adoption rates are growing. The question is where to focus development efforts?
What do you think? What should Ushahidi’s priorities be? Where should resources be committed? Who should be involved?