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Crowdsourcing the Impossible: Ushahidi-Haiti

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How did hundreds of student volunteers around the world use Ushahidi to save hundreds of lives in Haiti? How did these volunteers, most of whom spent weeks on end on their laptops in a dimly-lit school basement in snowy Boston, revolutionize humanitarian response and receive an Award for Excellence by the 2nd in command of NORTHCOM? How did they process and map thousands of urgent life-and-death text messages from Haiti in near real-time? And how did the volunteers come to Skype live with the Search and Rescue (SAR) teams in Port-au-Prince to directly support urgent relief efforts? Why did they get emails from the World Food Program and the USS Aircraft Carrier Vinson in the middle of the night? How did they get direct access to Digital Globe’s very high resolution imagery and to SOUTHCOM’s video footage from military drones? Indeed, how did they crowdsource the impossible?

Patrick Meier’s Ignite Talk will answer these questions in 4 minutes and 58 seconds.

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Patrick Meier


Patrick Meier is the Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and the co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers. He previously co-founded and co-directed Harvard University’s (HHI) Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning. He has consulted for many international organizations including the UN, OSCE and OECD on numerous crisis mapping and conflict early warning projects in Africa, Asia and Europe. Patrick is a recognized expert and thought leader on the intersection between new technologies, early warning, civil resistance, human rights and humanitarian response. He has written extensively on these topics and has presented his work at numerous high-profile conferences worldwide. Patrick is also completing his PhD at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is currently a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Program on Liberation Technologies. He has an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University and is an alum of the Sante Fe Institute’s (SFI) Complex Systems Program. Patrick blogs at iRevolution.net.

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Picture of Patrick Meier
Patrick Meier
04/02/2010 2:15am PDT

Thanks Mbotta! Please feel free to email me anytime, patrick@ushahidi.com

mbotta mbotta
04/01/2010 7:50pm PDT

just wanted to say that this is hugely inspiring. i hope i will be able to contribute to their efforts.