In Kenya in 2008, violence erupted when the incumbent Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner in the face of charges of vote rigging from supporters of his challenger, Raila Odinga. The violence soon spread across ethnic lines in often remote parts of the country far away from the reach of national or international media.
Kenya-based technologists developed Ushahidi - Swahili for “testimony” - to track election violence in real time. The Ushahidi site collected user-generated cellphone reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes and deaths and plotted them on a map, using the locations given by informants with greater rapidity than any reporter or election monitor. The technology was then developed and used for even more uses and became the West African data monitoring company it is today.
Peace Engineering Takeaway
The technologists responded rapidly to a crisis that was observed personally by lawyer Ory Okolloh, a Kenyan based in South Africa who had returned to vote and observe the election but received threats about her work that brought her home prematurely. Okolloh suggested over Twitter that a local data reporting platform could keep Kenyans safe. The solution was able to scale and created an ecosystem of developers looking to create technologies that address global solutions, attracting technologists, peacebuilders, and communities worldwide to collaborate on peace tech.