The new buzz word of the humanitarian world is crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing is when a group or community uses communication technology tools, such as SMS or the internet, to report information. Some argue that “mobile phones, mapping technology and social networking can enable citizens in crisis to seek help, facilitate aid deliveries, bear witness to abuses and hold governments and aid agencies more accountable” (IRIN news).
Ushahidi, a well known crowd sourcing platform, was set up to report and map violence during the post election period in Kenya in 2008 and has since gone on to gather information for various projects globally. The purpose of the platform is to aggregate information from the public, in the simplest way possible, so that it can be used effectively in a crisis situation. Most recently, Ushahidi created a crowd sourcing platform in Haiti which enabled local people to report their needs via SMS and assisted humanitarian response teams in locating affected people using street maps.
At GHA we encourage the use of visual and communication tools that facilitate better evidence to identify the needs of people affected by natural disaster and crisis. Whilst crowd sourcing is still evolving, it appears it has the potential to transform how humanitarian needs are identified and reported by creating a direct and immediate link between crisis affected people and assistance providers. However, much more evidence is needed to demonstrate how it will actually work when crisis strikes.