Cellphone and Internet access helps – and hinders – accurate reporting in Kenya
The new mapping initiative is intended as a repository for futurereconciliation efforts; Ushahidi means "witness" or "testimony" in Swahili. Unlike international monitoring and news agency dispatches, the reports are intended to be immediate and can be reported by cellphone text message/SMS (short message service). [Editor's note: The original version mischaracterized comments Ory Okolloh made to the BBC in 2005. Ms. Okolloh had been discussing Kenyan bloggers, rather than the recently launched map at ushahidi.com.]
In 2005 in Egypt, organizers used SMS and e-mail to rally against President Hosni Mubarak over a referendum to hold multiparty elections. Other mapping documentary projects, or "mapumentaries," have been organized less spontaneously, including a Crisis in Darfur map organized by the US Holocaust Museum; a site mapping environmental pollution set up The Center for Public Integrity; and a map of a neighborhood destroyed by a hurricane in Louisiana set up by a Dartmouth researcher.