Crowdsourcing the Oil Spill Fallout

More

A New Orleans non-profit wants you to tweet for the environment. E-mail and texts are fine, too.

Environmental advocacy group The Louisiana Bucket Brigade launched a new tool this week that lets anyone submit incident reports reports on how the oil spill is affecting life and land on the Gulf Coast. Users have filed reports on, among other things, a recovering oil-covered bird in Fort Jackson and a fourth-generation shrimper who's now out of work in Venice. The flow of data has been slow because oil hasn't yet hit Louisiana's bayous, but the non-profit hopes thousands will contribute as the damage spreads.

The project is run on the young crowdsourcing Ushahidi Platform, which is open-source and available as a free download. Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili, was first used to map political violence in Kenya in 2008 where it eventually gained 45,000 users, according to their website. It has since exploded.

As Global Voices reports, "it has become nearly impossible to discuss citizen technology efforts in Africa without mentioning Ushahidi." The platform "has sparked a wave of election monitoring projects that utilize the tool, both in Africa and in other regions." Over 3,500 reports were filed in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

But there are lighter uses, too. Citizens kept tabs on the cleanup following historic snowfall in D.C. this winter. And it has even been deployed to track zombie activity.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?

A panel of storytellers share their favorite tales, from the Bible to Charlotte's Web.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In