Posted by: commonsresource | March 9, 2010

If your life depended on it

Last week, there was a fascinating Newsweek website article entitled “‘Ushahidi’ Technology Saves Lives in Haiti and Chile“.  In her article, Jessica Ramirez describes how this open-source, Web-based crisis mapping platform, which was created in response to post-election violence in Kenya, is being used in Haiti and Chile to save lifes.  In both countries, Ushahidi (Swahili for testimony) has enabled users to collect information from sources such as text messages and blogs and to map this information in near real time by providing a platform ” advanced enough to paint an accurate portrait of events while remaining incredibly user friendly and easy to build on “.  According to Jessica Ramirez’s report “a member of the Marine Corps who worked on the Haiti rescue effort wrote, “I cannot overemphasize to you what the work of the Ushahidi/Haiti has provided. It is saving lives every day … You are making the biggest difference of anything I have seen out there in the open source world.””

Perhaps less dramatic but no less important, has been the impact of commons sourcing on health care research and service delivery.  Some examples of this range from The Open ISES (Open Information Systems for Emergency Services) Project (which is focused on open source software for use by emergency services), to The Biomedical Research Informatics Centre for Cardiovascular Science (BRICCS) (an open source software based research platform reported on by Glyn Moody in his recent ComputerworldUK post), to the CONNECT open source software platform by the U.S. Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).    The CONNECT initiative is of particular note since Brian Behlendorf ,  from the original Apache web server community, is working with the NHIM public-private partnership to apply open-source principles to health IT.   And while the application of open source software and commons sourcing in the health care context is not without challenges (such as the open source health software security issues highlighted in Fred Trotter’s blog post), your life may soon depend upon it!


  1. […] The group’s project uses the open source Ushahidi Platform (discussed in my earlier If your life depended on it post) and it is wonderful to see open source software in particular, and commons sourcing in […]

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