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Tag: crowdsourcing crisis information

Step 3: Get Ushahidi going in your community – install the code (about 1 hour)


Ushahidi is the white label for Crowdsourcing Crisis Information.  It was originally thrown together to track electoral violence in Kenya in 2008 and its founders have made it available for all communities.

6 broadbrush steps for installing Ushahidi

I’m documenting what I am doing to get it up and running in non-geeky language – and hopefully clearly – but I am writing as I go. You are about to catch up with me.

Step 1: Download WAMP to turn your PC into a local server.  The instructions are on LifeHacker.  The rest of you computer is unaffected.

Step2: Get the code from Ushahidi

Step3: Install Ushahidi (looks complicated but an hour’s uninterrupted concentration will do you)

What you have already: WAMP

  • At this point you should have WAMP running on your computer.  You should see a little half-shell in your systems tray.  You will also have discovered by now that you must left click and select “Start all services” to make it work.   Go to Localhost at the top and you should see the wikipedia that you created.

What you have already: Ushahidi Code

  • You also downloaded the Ushahidi code.  Where is it?  Maybe you created a directory under c://wamp/www/ushahidi ?

Prepping: Set up a sub-directory in your server root directory

  • We will begin by making another directory to contain all the code for the website.  Think of your domain name and create a directory c://wamp/www/yourdomainname

Prepping: Create a database

  • This is the similar to the database you set up for your wiki.
  • Left click the WAMP ‘shell’ icon in the system tray and go to localhost.  Select phpmyadmin.
  • Look for the input form in the middle that says ‘Create a new database’.  Enter “yourdomainname” with the quotes.
  • Look for “privileges”. Select.  Check the privileges for both “root” and the “username” you set up for yourself when you made your wiki are to yes.
  • Check your database list. You should see yourdomainname there.
  • To keep yourself working smoothly, write down the name of the database, your username and your password.  These will be different from the name and password you get into the Ushahidi website.  (Think website and database as two separate places that speak to each other.)

Prepping:  Unzip the Ushahidi files

  • Now unzip the Ushahidi files into the directory it is in, or, into c://wamp/www/yourdomainname. It doesn’t matter where for now as long as you remember where you sent them.
  • This should take 10-20 seconds.
  • Now copy everything in the sub-directory Ushahidi into c://wamp/www/yourdomainname.  In geek-language, we are putting the code in the root directory.

Prepping: Check your PHP extensions

  • Before you go on, there are four little things you must check on you WAMP server. Left click on the shell, go to PHP settings and then PHP extensions.  Go down the list and make sure the following are “on”.  Mine are marked with an arrow: php_curl, php_mbstring, php_gdr, and php_mcrypt.

Prepping: Thinking about you website users

  • What is the name of your website?  Maybe it is the same as yourdomainname or maybe the label at the top left of the first page will be different?  You can have two names or you can use the same one.  This is choice about communication not a requirement within the Ushahidi platform.
  • What is the tagline for your website?
  • What email address will you use on the front page of the website for people to contact you?  It is visible so maybe set up a fresh gmail account.  You may have a second password now.  Write them all down!

Installing Ushahidi

  • At last! You are ready to install. Go to your browser (Firefox) and type http://localhost/yourdomainname/installer
  • Choose “basic” and we are going to fill in some information.
  • Ushahidi will have found yourdomainname and entered it for you.  If you want to change it (see 5 bullets up), then do that now.
  • Enter your tagline (required).
  • Enter your (very) public email address.
  • Now enter the name of your database (that you set up above).  And the username you use for databases and your database password (all set up on Step 1).

And you are done!

  • You should see a fresh installation of Ushahidi in your browser at http://localhost/yourdomainname.
  • Go to http://localhost/yourdomainname/admin (remember this for future login’s).
  • Enter admin for user and password (don’t forget these.  Why not write them down with the usernames and passwords for your email and your database?)
  • Well done!  You can explore now.  Don’t change anything yet.  You are tired and you might make a mess.  I did and had to pull everything off and start again.  Now is the time to think about what your new site is for and what you want it to accomplish.

HELP:  If you have got stuck, leave me a comment.  Within the limits of my competence, I’m happy to try to help.

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Step 2: Get Ushahidi going in your community – get the code

Now the easy bit.  Get the code for Ushahidi.  Five minutes work and the possibility of a day or two elapsed time while you wait for the link.

  1. Go to the Ushahidi download website.
  2. Email Ushahidi saying why you want to use the platform.
  3. When they send you a link, download a zip file and store it wherever you store downloads.  Alternatively go to the C:\wamp/www directory that you made when you set up your local host, create a directory called c:\wamp/www/ushahidi and store the zip file there.

All done.

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6 broadbrush steps for getting Ushahidi going for your community

Disaster happens in a moment

Breaking news in 2010 were the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. They happen suddenly.  They are disastrous.  They bring ruin for families.   We feel dreadful from afar and that is nothing to what the people in their midst suffer.

Ushahidi: Crowdsourcing Crisis Information

USHAHIDI is a platform that allows ordinary people to pool information about what is happening, who needs help and who can help.

Iwas developed ‘on the fly’ to report electoral violence in Kenya in 2008.  The Ushahidi team have since developed the platform and made it available as a white label for other communities to use.

You can see it here raising money for Haiti, monitoring elections in Norway, and cleaing snow in Washington, DC.

It needs a little IT know-how to use, but it is not beyond the skills of any household PC user.

6 broad brush steps for getting Ushahidi going for your community

This is the first of a series of posts showing you how to use Ushahidi.

I am going to assume you have  similar IT knowledge to me and step you through the steps as simply as possible.

I am currently upto Step 3. So bear my noobe status in mind and chip in, if you wish.

What you need to get started with Ushahidi

  • An ordinary household PC or laptop running Windows
  • An internet connection.

Later on you will need a website to host Ushahidi for the public.   If you don’t have a website address, or domain name, you might like to think of one, register it and arrange for hosting.  But one thing at a time!  Look at these 6 steps and see what is involved.

6 broad brush steps for getting Ushahidi going for your community

Step 1: Before we download Ushahdi, download software to allow you to develop your website on your PC.  In IT parlance, create a “localhost” on your PC.

Step 2: Ask Ushahidi if you can use their software.  They will send you a link.

Step 3: Install Ushahidi on your PC.

Step 4: Customoize Ushahidi for your community.

Step 5: Launch your version of Ushahidi on a public server that can be accessed by the public.

Step 6: Mobilize your community.

Get started early

You can see that if you intend to use Ushahidi to help with emergency-responses, you should probably have it all set up in advance and have practiced using it in simpler, less stressful circumstances.

Some very obvious applications would be organize something like Comic Relief.  I am sure you will think of others.

Next post will be to set up your PC as a local host.

Disclaimer:  I am up to Step 3 – so bear that in mind!

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