Community, Innovation and a Nairobi Tech Hub
The end of this year brought some major changes to both Ushahidi and my life. By the beginning of December I moved back to Kenya with my family (where my wife and I grew up). That’s a big change, and you only make those kinds of change for big reasons. In this case, it was for increased community activity in the Nairobi tech space.
In specific, Ushahidi received some major funding from the Omidyar Network in November of 2009 and Hivos in December 2009. This allows us to do some things that we’ve been wanting to do for a while, and are important for both us and the tech community in Nairobi that helps make the platform what it is.
A Nairobi Innovation Hub
Of all the things I’m excited about, the iHub ranks right at the top. The goal here lies not in creating something that we control, but a space that serves the needs of the local tech community, of which we are a part. In a city like Nairobi, with a lot of great tech talent, there still is no central nexus point for groups to meet and individuals to collaborate. That’s what this space is for.
The hub will serve as a physical space to host Ushahidi activities and volunteer developers in Nairobi, as well as a community space for the local tech community.
We’ll be using it as our Kenya base of operations, working with a number of local organizations to deploy Ushahidi for purposes ranging from crime and corruption tracking to Kenya’s AIDS organizatons. The programmers and user community around the Ushahidi project will have a place to meet and collaborate on the platform together. Kenya is currently the only country in the world where we will have over a dozen installations of Ushahidi running by the end of 2009. This offers a unique opportunity to track what happens when you have an “ecosystem” of Ushahidi installations in a particular geographic location
Just this week we found a location that looks perfect. Here’s a short/rough video that I took using my phone (in other words, my apologies for the low quality):
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