Ushahidi Chile

Grant Report

August 27, 2010

Prepared by: Anahi Ayala Iacucci, Sawako Sonoyama, Caroline Stauffer, Jackyn Carlsen, Diana Rodriguez, Jamie Dougherty

Table of Contents


On February 27, 2010, at 03:34 local time a tremendous earthquake occurred off the coast of the Maule Region of Chile, rating a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale and lasting 90 seconds. The earthquake was felt in six regions in Chile, affecting 80 percent of the country's population. The cities experiencing the strongest shaking on the Mercalli intensity scale were Arauco and Coronel.

The earthquake also generated a blackout that affected 93 percent of the country's population and which lasted several days in some locations. President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and sent military troops to take control of the most affected areas. The death toll as of May 15, 2010 is 521 victims (down from early reports on March 3 of 802). Seismologists estimate that the earthquake was so powerful that it may have shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the Earth's figure axis by 8 cm or 2.7 milliarcseconds. It is estimated that Chile's territory could have expanded 1.2 km2 as a result.

An aftershock of 6.2 was recorded 20 minutes after the initial quake. Two more aftershocks of magnitudes 5.4 and 5.6 followed within an hour of the initial quake. By March 6 UTC, more than 130 aftershocks had been registered, including thirteen above magnitude 6.0.

Just a month an a half before a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.0 Mw was felt approximately 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian Government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless.

In that occasion Patrick Meier and David Kobia from Ushahidi inc. created the Ushahidi-Haiti deployment within two hours after the earthquake. On January 16, 2010, Ushahidi partners launched the 4636 SMS short code in Haiti allowing free mobile reporting of emergency needs and offers of help with location information via a text message. To help with the near real-time crisis mapping efforts Patrick Meier mobilized over 300 student volunteers from Tufts University and beyond manage the Ushahidi platform for Haiti.

The project expanded to involve several thousand Haitian volunteers to crowd-source the translation of SMS messages and other crisis reports from Creole to English as well as determine specific location information in Haiti. By January 19, 2010, Ushahidi-Haiti became an important resource for near real-time, geo-tagged crisis information used by the US Coast Guard and Joint Task Force Command Center, the Red Cross, the UN Foundation, US State Department, International Medical Corps, the Clinton Foundation, and other first responder organizations.


When the 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile on the morning of February 27, 2010, Patrick Meier and David Kobia launched a copy of the Ushahidi-Haiti platform for Chile. That afternoon, Patrick Meier invited students from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to collaborate. Just 48 hours after that, the Ushahidi-Chile instance was launched and the SIPA Ushahidi Situation Room was setup at Colombia University.

On the eve of March 1, 2010, the group started working on the platform with more than 60 SIPA student volunteers trained by Digital Democracy to monitor social and traditional media reports from Chile. On the first day, the volunteers manually mapped over 100 incidents. In two days, Ushahidi-Chile had over 150 volunteers and in three days they had over 700 reports mapped. To this date, Ushahidi-Chile volunteers have manually mapped nearly 1,200 reports.A Situation Room open from 9am to 9pm was set up in the School of International and Public Affairs, in Lehman Library, where food and beverage was available for students volunteering thanks to the Grant given by Mozilla Corporation.

At first the Chile deployment only collected information from media sources. A week after deployment, Patrick Meier put the team in touch with the local organization Chile Ayuda, which established two numbers for the platform to collect information directly from the people in Chile via text message. It took about three weeks to set up the numbers for information collection.

At the same time, a journalist from Internews Network working in Chile contacted the Ushahidi team and began collaborating to put the team in contact with relevant local partners. It was through this connection that the team made contact with Radio Bio Bio and with governmental representative in the new elected Chilean Government.

The Radio station started broadcasting the number for text message reports three weeks later and set up an information box on the their website. In April, SIPA started working with the Ministry of Education to monitor the number of Chilean students attending school.

In order to manage the increased number of reports coming in from media outlets, partner organizations, and text message, the Ushahidi team back in New York organized increased their mobilization of volunteers. They organized training sessions, and ended up training of 198 people on how to use the platform. The training involved UNDP and UNICEF personnel in New York City, students form the Mailman School of Public Health, undergrad students from Columbia University, students from New York University and volunteers working remotely from different parts of the US.In April and May, four students were able to travel to Chile using the money of the Mozilla grant to contact organizations working in the field and eventually transfer ownership of the Ushahidi Chile platform to local control. The Ushahidi team members also held trainings for university students and raised awareness on the possible uses of the Ushahidi Platform.

Objectives and Goals

Ushahidi-Chile at SIPA requested funding to Mozilla Corporation to be able continue immediate volunteer efforts, raise awareness of the platform, and enable students to travel to Chile to work with organizations and universities to transfer ownership of the platform.

The goal was to continue working with Chileans to update the Ushahidi page so that it will be of use in the next stages of reconstruction in southern Chile. By supporting SIPA volunteers who were currently working with the Ushahidi Platform, the funding was requested to be able to ultimately empower Chileans to use innovative technology as they started the process of reconstruction in the communities affected by the earthquake.

The funding needs and measurable goals were divided into the short, medium and long term for the project.

The short-term goal was to improve the capacity to provide emergency support to Chile at the Columbia University level. The SIPA team needed funding to promote the initiative and hold training sessions for volunteers so that reports on needs and responses in Chile could continue to be mapped. The goal was to increase the core volunteer team from the current 10 students to 30 dedicated volunteers, and consistently mapping of at least 100 incidents per day through the end of March.

The medium-term goal was to promote the development of Ushahidi as a public resource by transferring ownership to an established Chilean group, or a newly formed association of individuals. The SIPA team wanted to continue building on contacts with the Chilean health ministry, IT students in Talca and nonprofit organizations like Un Techo Para Chile and Chile Ayuda in order to identify stakeholders that could take over administration of the Ushahidi platform. The SIPA team also wanted to identify a core group in Chile that had the capacity to scale the project, adapt the platform, and create a clear vision about how the tool could be adapted to their own local needs.

Two students traveled to Chile for 10 days in April to hold initial focus groups with the new group of Ushahidi Chile administrators, hold crisis mapping training sessions at Chilean universities, and establish connections with local Mozilla officers who could help the Chilean team adapt the Ushahidi platform for their own local needs. The trip was aimed also at promoting awareness of the Ushahidi platform in Chile.

A second team of two students returned in Chile in May to follow up on the work done in April. The second team met with many of the partner organizations originally contacted in April to further their involvement with the Ushahidi platform. The second team also met with new potential partners and continued to raise awareness of other possible applications of Ushahidi in Chile.

The final goal was to adapt the Ushahidi platform's categories from displaying disaster response to indicators showing longer-term development themes, as identified by the Chilean team with the SIPA team's support. Upon returning from Chile, the SIPA team wanted to continue monitoring the Ushahidi page, looking for a 20 percent increase in the number of incidents reported by Chileans as well as increased usage of the website and platform in rural areas, especially those affected by the earthquake.

The SIPA team's long-term goal was to build a crisis mapping toolkit that would be shared with new colleagues in Chile, so that Columbia University students and the new Chilean group have the knowledge and resources to quickly implement a Ushahidi platform in different contexts in the future. Achievement of this goal was going to be measured by delivering web and paper-based toolkit materials.


The Mozilla Foundation's grant supported both the SIPA students' efforts in monitoring and mapping reports from New York and facilitating valuable meetings amongst Ushahidi-users in Chile. Through these venues, the Ushahidi-Chile at SIPA was able to contribute to the following impact.

1215 reports mapped

Through the efforts of SIPA students monitoring media resources and mapping GPS coordinates and verifying reports, a total of 1215 earthquake related reports have been mapped. It is noteworthy that within the first 4 days, 700 reports were done. These reports updated the local Chileans about the situation of collapsed buildings, available food drives, and dangerous looting areas.

Over 100 students trained

Within days, during midterm exams, the Ushahidi-Chile team was able to train over 100 SIPA students how to monitor, map, and administer the Ushahidi platform. Many of these students were vital in keeping the map up to date and helping Chileans on the ground. These students are now equipped with the most innovative, technological crisis mapping tool that will be useful in many ways.

Documentation and Training material

For the purpose of advertising the platform and the activities of the Ushahidi-Chile project at SIPA to the Chilean organizations and to International organization potentially interested in taking part in the project, the team has produced a leaflet to be distributes via e-mail and printed copy in Chile and elsewhere. In addition to that Ushaidi-Chile@SIPA created a comprehensive guide on the use and the management of the platform, in English and in Spanish, to be given to the Universities and the organizations trained in Chile.

Connecting with 8 Chilean Organizations

Through the two trips to Chile funded by the Mozilla Foundation, Ushahidi-Chile was able to connect with 8 different organizations on the ground plus 4 Univerisities. Furthermore, Ushahidi-Chile served as connectors and facilitators of these individual organizations that were already involved with or interested in Ushahidi to match their goals and leverage their skills.

Water experiment with Radio Bio-Bio

Ushahidi-Chile partnered with Radio Bio-Bio and conducted several experiments to analyze the availability of potable water. Over the local radio, they ran scheduled announcements that called for Chileans to call in to indicate whether their home address has drinkable water or not. These experiments proved that weeks after the earthquake, the majority of the households in the broadcast region still did not have access to water.

School Attendance experiment with Ministry of Education

In remote areas of Chile, the only way to communicate to the family that a school has reopened could be through a poster on the bulletin board. Since this board could be miles away from the students' homes, many students will miss the chance to return to school without even knowing about it. To address this problem, the Ministry of Education approached Ushahidi Chile to conduct a SMS experiment that will survey which students will be attending school. The purpose of the experiment was to take a bottom-up approach to find out how many students in each of the experiment districts would be able to return to school on opening day.

Institutionalizing Crisis-Mapping at SIPA

The Ushahidi-Chile initiative at SIPA gave birth to a new student group, the New Media Task Force, that will focus on institutionalizing Crisis-Mapping at SIPA. With or without an emergency, a group of SIPA students will always be trained and ready to deploy an Ushahidi platform. Having this trained group of students will cut down on organization and mobilization time in the event of a future emergency.

Organized and certified training programs will be available and since SIPA has already gained reputation in the field as successful crisis mappers, it will help in training other schools around the world. The Ushahidi-Chile initiative has left a lasting impact in the realm of graduate schools in that students are now able to help in a meaningful and tangible way during a disaster.

Crisis Mapping as a recognized Developing Tool

The efforts at SIPA has been recognized by numerous international networks such as BBC, Al Jazeera, Newsweek and New York Times. Combined with efforts done for Haiti, the international aid and government agencies have accepted that Ushahidi is a legitimate, powerful tool for humanitarian relief. Hilary Clinton said "The technology community has set up interactive maps to help us identify needs and target resources." This initiative was one of the first times an online map made an impact for disaster relief, and it is likely many will follow.

Lessons Learned

There were only a few hours between the moment the earthquake struck Chile to the first student-volunteer who browsed through media to find reports of needs and responses. The project wasn't planned and there was no infrastructure in place at the start of the deployment. For this reason, the Ushahidi management team was forced to develop solutions to problems in real time and act on decisions in the moment. Through the process of enacting plans and learning from mistakes, the team took away many lessons about deploying an emergency response effort that may be useful to future Ushahidi deployments. This section summarizes the key lessons that were learned from the Chile deployment that could be applied to other Ushahidi projects.


Although there were numerous training sessions held throughout the project duration, we found that most volunteers learned the most by actually doing crisis mapping. Initially, there was a high demand and dependency for core management members to be working in the situation room around the clock to guide new volunteers through the mapping process. To alleviate demand on the core management team, we found that it was beneficial to train some dedicated volunteers to be trainers themselves. This community approach to training increased the number of people who could train new members and enabled dedicated volunteers to play more of a leadership role in the project. It was important to have clear instructions to pass on to volunteers and trainers, so we learned to keep logs, notes, and indices at the Situation Room that were available to all volunteers and kept the whole team on the same page. We found that was important to develop training materials and references could be shared by all volunteers. These standardized materials were developed in English and could be modified to use with other projects.

Process Flow

Through the process of trial and error, we learned the best way to break down the process flow was to create three roles for volunteers: Media monitors, mappers, and admin. This division of labor is effective when there is a high volume of reports to be monitored, mapped, and approved. The problem encountered with this division of labor was that there was an overlap of information and there needed to be clear and cohesive instructions amongst the three roles. The creation of wiki, google forms, and spreadsheets aided with this process. For the future, utilizing SwiftRiver will be helpful because it will cluster and geo-locate the monitored reports automatically.

Closing the Feedback Loop

It is a constant struggle for the Ushahidi platform to close the feedback loop, and indicate which needs identified by Ushahidi have been acted on. Chileans knew about the existence of the Ushahidi platform within two days of the earthquake, however, the volunteers in New York were had no way of knowing who was using the site in Chile. This was a huge challenge for student volunteers, as we did not know which reports, if any, were actually making a difference in the recovery process. Volunteers in the Chile deployment had knowledge of how Ushahidi was used in Haiti, and during the initial phase of the Chile project the volunteers had to act on faith that the Chile project would serve a similar purpose. It wasn't until we reported a significant number of incidents that we started to receive feedback from people on the ground and establish partnerships with local organizations. Closing this feedback loop sooner would increase the utility of Ushahidi and increase its draw to volunteers. For future projects, it will be helpful to connect new volunteers with past volunteers who have experienced the tangible difference Ushahidi is making. This is also true from the opposite end, as it is important to notify that those who are sending these messages by SMS know that their messages are being reported. It is important to create a two-way system to ensure that their cry for help is not being ignored.

Volunteer Motivation

It was a constant struggle to recruit and motivate volunteers to monitor and map reports. It was to our disadvantage that there was less of an emotional impact for Chile as it was in Haiti. Because it was less obvious that the volunteers were making a difference, the number of volunteers dwindled after the first two weeks of operation. Ushahidi-Chile learned that having the basic nourishments (food, snacks, drinks) is important to recruit volunteers, especially student volunteers. The Mozilla Grant helped the management team provide these refreshments for our volunteers. Additionally, having an actual Situation Room is critical to motivate volunteers. Although students can volunteer remotely, it is more cooperative and inspiring if there is a team of mappers and monitors with which volunteers can actually interact. Also, having the Situation Room be visible to the larger crowd is successful in inviting random students to stop by and entice them to volunteer. Additionally, not knowing how many reports to expect also made volunteer recruitment and planning difficult. There were a few instances where we were recruited many volunteers to help with what we expected to be a large number of incoming SMS reports, but none arrived even when the volunteers were ready. These instances taught us that the timing to recruit volunteers are important, and that we should only motivate volunteers only after verifying that there is an actual need.

Technical Difficulties

The technical aspect of Ushahidi is extremely difficult for non-technical users. Specifically, most volunteers do not have a technical background and there is high dependency and burden on technically savvy volunteers. There is a time delay when in fixing technical glitches, which posed challenges for our operations. For example, in one case, it was unclear when we received SMS from the senders. There needed to be a more obvious indication of messages being received, but our team did not possess the in-house knowledge to be able to fix this issue ourselves. We had to recruit a programmer to fix this. Another example was that the Ushahidi platform did not support accents in the text, which caused problems working with Chile, a Spanish speaking country. Also, the SMS would enter with only half of the phone number visible, which made it impossible for us to reach out and actually attempt to help the person who reported the emergency. At times, some technical issues were easy to fix, as soon as we received some training. For example, adding new categories was an easy fix. By recruiting more volunteers with technical backgrounds and increasing the communication flow between the non-technical and technical volunteers, these problems could be alleviated.


Establishing a presence on the ground is critical for a successful deployment of Ushahidi, as you will meet key stakeholders face to face and learn about the reality and resources on the ground. Prior to traveling, it is required that a phone or Skype meeting is done so that all parties are on the same page when they meet in person. We found that the longer the team is able to spend on the ground and meet with stakeholders, the more beneficial the trip will be. This allows the Ushahidi representative to gain a stronger understanding of the realities on the ground, and establish more meaningful relationships with partners. For Ushahidi-Chile, it was beneficial to send representative in two trips as we were able use the second trip to build on partnerships established during the first.

Communication Abroad

Effective communication with local partner organizations is key. It is important to understand that emailing may not work in the same way as it does in the US, and that having an in-person, face to face meeting is powerful. Also, it is critical to know the right contact within the organization. For example, knowing the computer programmer of one organization may not be as useful than knowing the international volunteer coordinator of the same organization, and it often takes intimate knowledge of an organization to know who the right person to speak to is. It is also to important to remember that one meeting may not enough, and that it takes time to build meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships.

Local Partnerships

Upon traveling to Chile, we learned that many of the organizations were already using the Ushahidi platform and were excellent Ushahidid users. In fact, the success of the platform often depends very heavily on these stakeholder organizations working together. Our most effective role was to introduce these organizations to each other, connect their goals and strengths, and facilitate their meetings. It is also helpful to connect local organizations with local media to increase publicity and recognition. It is advised to attend related events such as the Global Voice Conference to increase contacts in the field. Finally, as it is difficult to research local organizations, it will be beneficial to partner with NGOs.

The Role of US-based volunteers

It is important to clarify what the role of student volunteers are. Many partner organizations misconceived the Ushahidi Chile team as a non-profit organization, aid agency, or salesperson. It is important to indicate what we are doing and not doing. This identity must be addressed and understood prior to meeting partner organizations in person.


Although we traveled to Chile in hopes that the Chileans will be able to use the Ushahidi platform for long-term uses, we learned that sustainability was difficult to obtain, especially as the earthquake response moved from emergency aid to long-term development. The role of Ushahidi in the long term redevelopment after the earthquake was not as prominent and many of the organizations using Ushahidi during the initial phases found it difficult to prioritize Ushahidi during these later phases. These organizations are often faced with the same volunteer recruitment difficulties that we faced, and will only prioritize Ushahidi in so far as it advances their own goals. In order for Ushahidi to be sustainable in the long run, it must support the mission of the organizations that use it.


It is always difficult to record operations during a crisis, however it is important to document these things and leave the lessons learned so that later operations can learn from these experiences. There should be a better mechanism that forces documentation during all phases of the project, and records changes in operation or procedure. This can be done by designating specific managers who work on blogging about the event.


The Ushahidi-Chile at SIPA initiative was a student-led initiative that was truly organic in nature - it was run by students with little background and guidance in crisis mapping, scrambling and organizing to help as much as possible to those who are effected in Chile.

The Mozilla Foundation Grant has helped us make our volunteer force stronger and our Chilean network deeper. The grant helped motivate volunteers to remain dedicated to the project and keep working. The initiative was able to go further because four students were able to travel to Chile to understand the realities on the ground and develop relationships with partner organizations on the ground. As the chapter of Chile closes for Ushahidi, we understand that this is not an end to disaster relief and humanitarian aid that will be needed in the future. For this reason, Ushahidi and Crisis Mapping skills will be institutionalized at SIPA and other universities. A student group has already been formed that will specifically be in charge in creating training programs and certificates for students to be crisis mappers.These students will be at the forefront of crisis mapping if and when the next disaster hits. Furthermore, Ushahidi is already brainstorming ways to train more university students around the globe to create a network of crisis mappers. SIPA students will take a leading role in this training, as we were one of the first Ushahidi users. With these technology and tools, students will become key players in effective humanitarian aid.

Annex I: Meetings Notes from the 2 field trips to Chile


From April 1 to 11, two members of the Ushahidi-Chile core management team, Diana Rodriguez and Sawako Sonoyama traveled to Chile. Their goal for the trip was to solidify relationships with interested people and organizations. While there they were to clarify how different organizations are currently using Ushahidi, identify how they want to use it going forward, provide training as needed, and determine next steps. They were also going to try to connect different organizations to align similar interests and strengthen networks. During their stay, they were able to meet with several groups and organizations. A summary of each meeting follows.

Meeting #1
Organization: ChileAyuda
Attendees: Pedro Fuentes, General Director; Fran Varela, Coordinator of Mapping/SMS/Technology
Date: April 2, 2010

The first meeting was with Pedro Fuentes and Fran Varela. It was clarified that ChileAyuda and Digitales por Chile are connected: Digitales por Chile is a network of computer programmers that are aligned with CrisisCommons and ChileAyuda is one project of Digitales por Chile, and it aims to centralize information for the earthquake relief efforts. ChileAyuda's Executive Director is Felipe Baiterman and General Director is Pedro Fuentes. It is a horizontal organization that has directors taking responsible of various "cells" such as communication, government relations, non-profit relations, legal, and technology. Fran Varela is the director of the technology "cell" and oversees SMS and the map. They expressed their interest in being involved with Ushahidi.

Pedro Fuentes expressed his perspective on implementing Ushahidi projects with the government. He explained the difficulty in working with the government as they have very little follow through. Many projects start but end up being shelved within the bureaucracy. He warned to be cautious when starting projects with the government, and to carefully plan the execution of it.

Meeting #2
Organization: Ministry of Education (MinEduc)
Attendees: Ramon Rodriguez, Advisor to the Minister of Education; Pedro Fuentes and Francisca Varela
Date: April 3 and 5, 2010

Ramon Rodriguez explained the motivation behind the education project. The Ministry of Education has done official announcements that schools will re-open again on April 5; however, there is no confirmation of who got the information or who will attend the school. Now that the information has ideally been passed down from a top-down approach, the goal of Ushahidi is to diffuse the information from bottom up. This is the sandwich theory of relaying information. The information would be sent from the students or their parents whether they will attend class next week or not. It is important for students to attend school by April 23, or else they will lose a whole year of school.

The Ministry of Education in cooperation with Ushahidi Chile decided to issue a press release that will indicate: If you are NOT attending class, please send a SMS with the name of your community and school. The school names and community names should be separated by a comma. The press release would go out to only the eighth region as a test. The Eight region alone has 54 communities and 430,000 students. To prepare for the worst case scenario, Ushahidi and ChileAyuda estimated 40,000 messages coming in.

Ushahidi and ChileAyuda made technologically adjustments to handle over thousands of messages coming in to the system. With a third party company, Intico, it was determined that the system could hold 1000 messages per hour and 8000 messages would be in a queue. Then, a Google account was created to receive the messages in a RSS feed so that multiple volunteers can look at the site simultaneously and without duplicating work. Also, an internet application titled "MinEduc School Finder" was created to expedite the search for GPS coordinates.

On Monday, April 5, MinEduc indicated the press release would go out in the morning. Ten volunteers at Columbia University and five volunteers in Santiago were prepared to map these messages, however, no SMS entered the system. Fran Varela confirmed that there was not technical problem. Finally on Thursday, April 8, MinEduc confirmed that the press release went out to all of the media sources in the 8th region. To this date, the system did not receive a single message regarding the students' class attendance.

Meeting #3
Organization: Universidad Catolica
Attendees: Claudio Mourgues, Professor in Construction Engineering and Management; Pedro Fuentes
Date: April 5, 2010

The meeting covered introduction to Ushahidi and its usages for crisis-management for Chile's earthquake. The difference between working with emergency and transitioning to reconstruction was discussed; and that that platform must be more automated as it shifts to long-term usages for reconstruction.

Mourgues offered to connect Ushahidi with the Department of Architecture, Department of Political Science and the Public Safety Department of the government.

Meeting #4
Organization: Internews
Attendees: Rodrigo Luengo, Freelance Journalist
Date: April 5, 2010

Jesse Hardman suggested the meeting with Rodrigo Luengo. Luengo was already very familiar with Ushahidi-Chile due to Hardman's work. He commented on the MinEduc project that it is strange that the message has not come through; as he would suspect that students and parents would send these messages.

Luengo offered to connect Ushahidi with Andrea Vial, the Dean of Journalism at Universidad Alberto Hurtado, his alma mater. Vial had already been contacted by the management team, however she has been unresponsive. Luengo reminded that emailing is slow in Chile and that having face-time is extremely important.

Luengo commented on Ushahidi's partnership with RadioBioBio. He believed it was important to travel to Concepcion to have face time with the radio station. He believed that the experiment on water with RadioBiobio was a good project, however the challenge was having the human resources. He understood why the radio station required timeliness because of cost issues also. He also explained that the Chileans who are without water in that region would expect to see the results of the SMS.

Meeting #5
Organization: ChileMoz
Attendees: Eduardo Escarez
Date: April 6, 2010

Sarah Doherty from Mozilla Corporation connected Ushahidi-Chile to Eduardo Escarez and ChileMoz. ChileMoz is interested in supporting Ushahidi and its initiative in reconstruction, and would like to know what kind of role they could play. They hope to connect with ChileAyuda to explore their collaboration. They also offered to connect Ushahidi-Chile with university students in Valparaiso.

Meeting #6
Organization: DoingIT/Universidad de Talca
Attendees: Juan Pizarro, Hector Rojas, Jorge ? (IT Prof. at Universidad de Talca), Pedro Fuentes
Date: April 7, 2010

Juan Pizarro and Hector Rojas have a small IT enterprise called DoingIT. They are all students in their last year working on their theses and are about to graduate from U. de Talca. They are trying to collaborate more closely with Universidad de Talca to secure financial and other support (such as server space) for their Ushahidi-related project. The University is interested in this project because of their commitment to do something for the recovery of the region. The project consists of using the Ushahidi Platform to adapt it to the needs of small municipalities in Talca. The idea is that this will provide municipalities that have little resources with an organizational tool that they can use to track what is happening in their communities. There is a small pilot in the municipality of Santa Cruz currently under way. The information that is being inputted in this adapted Ushahidi clone is based on survey information that volunteers have gathered in Santa Cruz. As such map categories reflect the information gathered in the surveys (e.g. temporary housing built, blanket availability, food supplies). The goal of the project is to expand this pilot to other small municipalities with the help of student volunteers and resources that the University can offer. Ushahidi-Chile offered support and help with eventual training for the University.

Meeting #7
Organization: Universidad Alberto Hurtado
Attendees: Fernando Valenzuela, Omar Aguilar, Aldo Mascareno, Cardina Shrona, Pedro Fuentes
Date: April 8, 2010

The attendees were all members of the Sociology Department. The meeting started with an overview and explanation of Ushahidi. The attendees had many questions about how the platform works and its potential uses. Among the questions they raised were how are results quantified, if the platform had been used to benefit marginalized or indigenous communities and if it was possible to add pictures to the map. An interesting idea from Fernando Valenzuela as to what their contribution could be was to do a research or academic project to analyze more systematically how Ushahidi was used in Chile and how it has been used in other instances. They also thought that they could contribute with volunteer students and connecting Ushahidi-Chile with the Observatorio Social of the University, which undertakes impact evaluations among other things.

Meeting #8
Organization: Department of Public Safety
Attendees: Jorge Nazer (Director), Vinko Fodic (Advisor), Pedro Fuentes
Date: April 8, 2010

Jorge Nazer and Vinko Fodic were interested in using Ushahidi to establish a comprehensive system for public safety that would gather reports from citizens on a variety of safety issues such as unlocked doors in a community, auto theft, crime, tracking sexual offenders, etc. Their idea is similar to the Mapping Atlanta project. Overall, this was a very positive meeting with the parties involved showing a high level of interest and commitment to implement the project. Key points involved having the information be private at first for internal use and the use of volunteers would not be necessary because their intention is to devote internal human resources to monitor the platform. Pedro Fuentes, the representative from ChileAyuda has remained as the point person for this project. He was to have a follow-up meeting to determine how to proceed and what programming resources would be needed if they wanted to go ahead with the project.

Meeting #9
Organization: Firefox Chile
Attendees: Rodrigo Garcia, Pedro Fuentes
Date: April 9, 2010

Upon learning of the status of several of our projects, in particular the difficulties with the press release from MinEduc, Rodrigo offered to connect us with a contact at, an online news media source. He considered that media exposure was extremely important and that the more people knew about Ushahidi and also the work ChileAyuda is doing the better. Mario Saavedra, the Press Director at ChileAyuda was in contact with him. Additional follow-up items could be having this person do an interview of the Ushahidi team. Unfortunately, this didn't happen for time constrains.

Meeting #10
Organization: Universidad de la Frontera, CIISOC (Centro de Investigaciones de la Inclusion Digital y la Sociedad del Conocimiento)-Temuco
Attendees: Sandra Soto Provoste, Esteban Paiva
Date: April 9, 2010

Sandra and Esteban are both colleagues at CIISOC. Esteban is their IT person and the one who is dealing with the technology nuts and bolts. This project was originally intended to be mHealth related to earthquake conditions (tracking epidemiology), however it was changed due to logistical constraints. As it stands now, the project is focused on a small rural town called Comuna de Saavedra, in the 9th region, one of the poorest in the country. The goal of the project is to track psychiatric patients. Because appropriate treatment and supervision is crucial to the health of these patients, the project aims to provide more constant monitoring by including more actively family members instead of relying solely on health workers. Health workers can't always visit all their patients as regularly as needed due to logistical constraints. By using mobiles, caretakers (the patient's family members) can report on treatment adherence and symptoms using SMS. This SMS would feed into the Ushahidi map to provide health workers in charge of these patients with a snapshot of how the patient is doing and if the treatment is being followed. If there are problems, health workers can better target their efforts by seeing where their presence is most needed. In order to help them implement this project, we showed them how we have been managing the Ushahidi platform, we talked about the human resource component that would be needed and some of the technological components that could be best suited for this initiative.

Some of their questions/requests included: 1) Is it possible for Ushahidi to write a letter of support for the project? 2) Are there methodologies for similar projects that they could use as a reference? We have connected them with Patrick Meier for answers.

Finally, Esteban expressed interest in using Ushahidi for reconstruction purposes. He was going to go back to his team and survey if there were resources and interest there. I would recommend following-up with him for a meeting.


From May 1 to 13, two members of the Ushahidi-Chile core management team, Caroline Stauffer and Anahi Ayala Iacucci traveled to Chile. Their goal for the trip was to further establish relationships with interested people and organizations. While there they were going to finally decide who was going to be the lead organization on the future management of the Ushahidi Platform, identify how they wanted to use it going forward, provide training to all the interested organizations and Universities, and determine the final step for the transition to Chile. They were also going to try to connect all the different organizations contacted previously and interested in managing and using the platform. During their stay, they were able to meet with several groups and organizations. A summary of each meeting follows.

Meeting #1:
Organization: Co-Op / Reconstruye
Attendees: Fernando Portal
Date: May 2, 2010

Arturo Torres, Nicolas Valenzuela, and Fernando Portal started Co-Op while they were architecture students. They sought to integrate ideas of art with methods of science - looking for design necessities. RECONSTRUYE was formed because the mayor of Talca wanted to form a group of different specialists who could help with reconstruction. Fernando believes Ushahidi could be useful in a post-emergency situation because it could be a tool for civil society. The government's plan for the earthquake is for 13 private companies to make donations and decide how reconstruction should be done. This is not a problem per say, but it is controversial and civil society hasn't been given much information on reconstruction. RECONSTRUYE and Sur Maule (an NGO in Talca) hope to give people more of a voice in the process. The companies are to submit their reconstruction plans in three months, but the architects believe a plan for Talca alone should take a year.

Fernando said it would be helpful to see how other organizations have deployed Ushahidi and agreed to have us meet Nicolas and Arturo to travel to Talca the next day. Fernando, Arturo and Nicolas are now administrators on the Ushahidi-Chile platform.

Meeting #2
Organization: Chile Ayuda
Attendees: Caroline, Anahi, Pedro Fuentes Schuster Christian Van der Henst
Date: May 2, 2010

The purpose of the meeting was to understand Chile Ayuda's future involvement with Ushahidi. Pedro Fuentes confirmed:

  1. Chile Ayuda can be first technical referral for organizations in Chile using Ushahidi. Oscar and Patrick can be second referral if Chile Ayuda aren't able to do it. Chile Ayuda will not deploy new Ushahidi projects.
  2. Francisca Varela and Christian Van der Henst will work with SMS.
  3. Ushahidi-Chile will put Chile Ayuda's logo on the web page along with a paragraph about them; we need to e-mail Pedro again to remind him for this.

Pedro will meet Patrick with the rest of the team in New York. Christian may also be able to meet Ushahidi people in San Francisco.

Meeting #3
Organization: Sur Maule (Talca)
Attendees: Caroline, Anahi, Oriana Arellano, Caty Olivares
Date: May 3, 2010

Sur Maule is an NGO that has worked in Talca district for 5 years on civil society projects - adult education, trainings, etc. They also have a project with RECONSTRUYE. There are around 250,000 people in Talca district and the earthquake affected an estimated 8,000 families. Concepcion got more press attention after the earthquake, but Talca could likely suffer more in the long term. It is a town of family-run businesses-people literally lost their businesses to the earthquake and now don't have jobs. The main risk of the private sector taking charge of reconstruction: people are not given an option of what the city will look like. Sur Maule is most concerned that the business responsible (grupo Hurtado Vicuña) won't allow a public forum on reconstruction so the public won't have a say.

Immediately after the earthquake, the local radio station in Talca took calls so people could share information on where the damage was. Oriana noted that Ushahidi also does this, but it has the advantage of archiving the information. Sur Maule is interested in using Ushahidi as a record of Talcas destruction, for long-term monitoring of reconstruction and also for soliciting input from the public on how reconstruction is going and could be improved. While they only work in Talca, they are also interested in meeting other organizations or universities working with the platform to learn what they are doing in other regions.

Carmen, a former journalist is working on their Web site and with social media so she could conceivably be in charge of administering the page.

Meeting #4
Organization: University of San Sebastian, Concepción
Attendees: Caroline, Anahi, Miguel Hernandez, Pablo Escobar
Date: May 4, 2010

San Sebastian is a private university and Miguel and Pablo, both professors, said the students are generally interested in volunteering and have already been involved in earthquake relief projects. Caroline and Anahi traveled to Tacahuano to see the damage caused by the tsunami - the port town is completely destroyed. Both professors were really excited about the possibility to have students involved in something like the Situation Rooms of SIPA and Fletcher. They are admins on the Ushahidi-Chile page and we agreed to schedule a training for the students via Skype from New York.

Meeting #5
Organization: Global Voices Summit
Attendees: Caroline, Anahi, Jaroslav Valuch (Ushahidi Haiti), Emily Jacobi (Digital Democracy) Felipe Baytelman (Executive Director Chile Ayuda) Fabiola Torres (Universidad de Chile student) and 200 more.
Date: May 5 - 6, 2010

The two Ushahidi-Chile members met Jaro from Ushahidi-Haiti and Emily Jacobi from Digital Democracy at the conference. Felipe from Chile Ayuda participated in a session about Chilean media after the earthquake. Jaro, Anahi and Caroline hosted a seminar about using Ushahidi for crisis mapping that was attended by about 12 people. The focus on the meeting was to explain lessons learned and future steps of the the two deployments. There was also a session on using Ushahidi for election monitoring and Anahi spoke with a group from Brazil who are interested in using the platform to monitor Brazil's upcoming elections. Fabiola Torres is a journalism student at the University of Chile who learned about Ushahidi through Twitter two days after the earthquake. She believes students at her university would be interested in learning to use the platform and Caroline will schedule a training session with her.

Meeting #6
Organization: Universidad de la Frontera
Attendees: Patricia Pena, Sandra Soto
Date: May 5, 2010

The two persons met work with a consortium of NGOs called Acción which Sur Maule is also part of. Universidad de la Frontera would like to share the Ushahidi page with the entire consortium - this makes sense because a lot of the NGOs are regionally based but are interested in knowing how reconstruction is going in other regions.

As far as for Sandra Soto, her M-Health Project would need to work from a different platform than the existing Ushahidi-Chile page and Ushahidi-Chile suggested her that RapidSMS would be better for her project. Anahi put her in touch with people who may be able to assister her with RapidSMS. Sandra gave us a contact with the Red Cross in Concepcion who is interested in geo-referencing information from the affected areas.

Meeting #7
Organization: CIPER
Attendees: Caroline, Francisca Skoknic, Pedro Ramirez
Date: May 5, 2010

Caroline met with two journalists from CIPER, a nonprofit investigative journalism project. Francisca is an acquaintance of Fernando from RECONSTRUYE. CIPER had tried to make their own Google map based on information that was e-mailed to them from the public in order to track structural damage right after the earthquake, but found a lot of the information people were e-mailing wasn't correct. They know RECONSTRUYE and are interesting in watching how the platform develops as a large part of their work in the coming months will be monitoring reconstruction.

Meeting #8
Organization: Accion
Attendees: Anahi, Patricia Pena, Alicia Sanchez from Accion
Date: May 6, 2010

Patricia and Alicia wanted to understand how they can use the platform. Anahi showed them the admin page, how to customize the platform and they talked about the best way to organize the flow of information if the 40 organization that are part of Accion are going to use the Ushahidi page. They asked if the SIPA team could go to Temuco and train the organizations on the use of the platform. Anahi showed them also how the organization working in the field could take advantage of the platform, the alert system, and the SMS system. They were very enthusiastic about it. They are thinking about using it for accountability purposes, and want to go back to Temuco to speak with the rest of the organization about it. Anahi added Alicia, Patricia and Eduardo as Administrators of the platform so that they can look at it and start experimenting its use. We agreed on following up after they talk with the organizations that are part of Accion, probably next week. Ushihidi-Chile offered to do a Skype training or more than one if they need it.

Meeting #9
Organization: Chile Moz
Attendees: Caroline, Anahi, Jaroslav Valuch, Eduardo Escarez
Date: May 7, 2010

Eduardo is not a programmer, but part of his job is to work with students at local tech universities. He is going to try to assemble a team of PHP programmers who could work on fixing bugs in the Ushahidi-Chile platform and be the technical team supporting the organizations taking the platform in Chile.

Annex II: Expenses report


Item Cost
Chile Trip #1 $3873.92
Chile Trip #2 $3480.58
Volunteer Appreciation $704.14
Total: $8058.64
Remaining: 1941.36

Field Trip 1

Item USD
Flights 3037.38
Food 2507.27
Supplies 46.10
Visa fees 134.93
Taxis 184.80
Public transit 48.92
Rental car and gas 107.83
Road tolls 23.95
Bank fees 65.10
Phone 44.64
Total $3.873.92

Field Trip 2

Item USD
Flights 2,367.40
Food 444.60
Hotels 52.36
Supplies 150.77
Visa fees 131.00
Taxis 238.10
Public transit 90.07
Bank fees 7.29
Total $3.480.58