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Crowdsourcing the Impossible: Ushahidi-Haiti

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Patrick Meier (Ushahidi)

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. At Ushahidi, Patrick recently launched and spearheaded the deployments in Haiti and Chile. He was previously the co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s (HHI) Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning. Patrick has consulted for numerous international organizations including the UN, OSCE, OECD on crisis mapping and early warning projects in countries ranging from the Sudan and Thailand to East Timor and Colombia. Patrick is a PhD candidate at The Fletcher School and has an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University. He is also an alum of the Sante Fe Institute (SFI) Complex Systems Summer School. Patrick blogs at iRevolution.net

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Patrick Meier
04/02/2010 9:15am PDT

Thanks Mbotta! Please feel free to email me anytime, [email protected]

mbotta mbotta
04/02/2010 2:50am PDT

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