Erik Hersman (Ushahidi), Robert Kirkpatrick (InSTEDD) and Christopher Fabian (UNICEF) led an excellent panel on mobile technology in disasters and crises. Erik gave an superb presentation on Ushahidi 2.0 due to be released in the coming weeks. The functionalities that the Ushahidi team has added to the platform are just spot on and really well thought through. I’m very excited for the open source tool to get out into public hands very soon. In the meantime, I will be helping the team test the upgraded tool over the coming weeks.
Robert gave a more technical-oriented presentation on InSTEDD’s latest toy, Mash4X. While I think I grasped the basics and ultimate purpose of the new tool, much of the platform’s description was rather technical. Robert did mention to me later on that they (InSTEDD) are still trying to hit the right notes when they present their work to a non-technical audience. I suggested he give more basic examples, real-world scenarios in which the tool could be used. Robert also showed screenshots of GeoChat which he had described to me back in November 2007.
Christopher presented some of the projects UNICEF is engaged in such as the development of a new laptop computer that can be used in crisis environments. He emphasized the importance of collaborating with groups like Ushahidi and InSTEDD.