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Crisis mapping: How Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign changed advocacy

Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign includes an early warning radio network and crisis map that help civilians prepare for attacks by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, guest blogger Patrick Meier says.

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The project is also innovative because of the technology being used. Michael got in touch about a year ago to learn more about the Ushahidi platform and after a series of conversations decided that they needed more features than were currently available from Ushahidi, especially on the data visualization side. So I put them in touch with my colleagues at Development Seed. Ultimately, the team partnered with a company called Digitaria which used the back end of a Sales-force platform and a customized content management system to publish the information to the crisis map. This an important contribution to the field of crisis mapping and I do hope that Digitaria share their technology with other groups. Indeed, the fact that new crisis-mapping technologies are surfacing is a healthy sign that the field is maturing and evolving.

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In the meantime, I’m speaking with Michael about next steps on the conflict early warning and especially response side. This project has the potential to become a successful people-centered conflict early-response initiative as long as the team focuses seriously on conflict preparedness and implements a number of other best practices from fourth-generation conflict early warning systems.

This project is definitely worth keeping an eye on. I’ve invited Crisis Tracker to present at the 2011 International Conference of Crisis Mappers in Geneva in November (ICCM 2011). I do hope they’ll be able to participate. In the meantime, you can follow the team and their updates via Twitter at @crisistracker. The Crisis Tracker iPhone and iPad apps and should be out soon.

* Patrick Meier is an internationally recognized thought leader on the application of new technologies for crisis early warning, humanitarian response, human rights and civil resistance. He currently serves as Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and previously co-directed Harvard's Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning. He also consults extensively for international organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe. Patrick holds a PhD from The Fletcher School, a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from Stanford and an MA from Columbia University. He was born & raised in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @patrickmeier

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