Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ushahidi

In Unlikely Places Around the Globe: 25 Startups?

The world’s cities are all trying to emulate Silicon Valley’s example and become the next global hub. Leading cities such as London, New York, Tel Aviv, Beijing and Berlin are all creating friendly conditions for startups to thrive, but other incipient companies in more unlikely places are also prospering.

Below, we’ve rounded up 25 startups Russia to New Zealand, Lagos to the Himalayas and Krakow to Uruguay to show that innovation is not about being in the right place — it’s about doing the right thing.

Monty Munford posted in Mashable this May 15, 2013

1. VisibleNation — Moscow, Russia

VisibleNation is an Anglo-Russian startup that offers a social data comparison service so users can share accurate information and data. Its free service allows people to access categories such as travel, career, education, finance, health and family to make lifestyle decisions.

2. Iroko Partners — Lagos, Nigeria

Image courtesy of Iroko Partners

Iroko is the world’s largest distributor of African entertainment, including Nigeria’s huge Nollywood film industry.

Launched at the end of 2010, the company has a global audience of more than 6 million users from 178 countries, and it’s regularly referred to as ‘Africa’s Netflix.’

3. Ushahidi — Nairobi, Kenya

Ushahidi, which means ‘testimony’ in Swahili, was initially a website that was developed to map reports of violence around the 2008 Kenyan election.

The company has since evolved to become a non-profit tech company that specializes in developing free open-source software for data collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

4. Druva Software — Pune, India

Druva is an award-winning platform for file sharing, data loss prevention and real-time analytics.

It operates as a company rooted in India, but with a Silicon Valley culture. It is based in Pune, an emerging tech hub that has excellent transportation links with Mumbai.

5. Happy Ending — Hoi Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Happy Ending is a cheeky Vietnamese online flower shop that uses sex in a hilarious way to sell flowers.

If offers sections such as Cheap Bastard, Sugar Daddy or Playboy to tempt people, usually men, to buy flowers for those they love.

6. UpTo — Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Image courtesy of UpTo

The downfall of Detroit is well-known, but that hasn’t stopped U.S. startup UpTo from committing itself to the city.

UpTo wants to eliminate the ‘future void’ in mobile calendars by making them shareable, and it’s expanding after a successful run with an events stream feature in partnership with Westfield Shopping Center during last year’s London Olympics.

7. Spinlet — Lagos, Nigeria

Spinlet is a mobile music download platform that offers media distribution to emerging markets in Africa.

It encourages the social aspect of music by making it easy to create and share playlists to friends within the application, and it also enables both the purchase and discovery of new music.

8. Pawngo — Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

Pawngo is the first U.S. full-service, online pawn shop and provides a short-term answer to immediate financial needs with loans up to $1 million.

Its discreet online process means customers — such as families and small business owners — can obtain cash quickly without risking their credit rating.

9. Agent Anything — Adelaide, Australia

Agent Anything is a platform on which people and companies can post small jobs, tasks and errands and have them fulfilled by college students.

Users put in their credit card, set a mission and a price, then vet responses from ‘agents’ who offer to accept these missions. When the task is complete, the agent is then paid.

10. Metrix — Perth, Australia

The company uses data visualization, market modelling, data efficiency and market context to design strategy for businesses.

The company was recently cited by ANZ Innovyz START program director Jana Matthews as having the potential to be a $100 million company in five years.

11. Ironhide Game Studio — Montevideo, Uruguay

Formed in 2010, Ironhide develops games and is the owner of Kingdom Rush, a hugely successful game for the iPhone.

The team cites the availability of developers and the open immigration of the country as the reason they chose Uruguay as their base.

12. Xeneta — Oslo, Norway

Xeneta tracks shipping prices on a database with more than 1,000 international shipping and helps businesses optimize their shipping rates.

Members can share their data 100% anonymously and compare their rates to the overall market, creating a growing community that increases the quality and range of the sea rate index.

13. IndieReign — Hamilton, New Zealand

Formed at the end of 2011, IndieReign allows independent filmmakers to market their films themselves, rather than rely on a film distributor.

It lists independent films for online streaming rental or download purchase and lets filmmakers set their own pricing.

14. Spraffl — Edinburgh, Scotland

Spraffl is an anonymous social network that allows users to post location-based messages to everybody in that area.

Founded at the end of 2012, it has already had its first positive marriage proposal and is helping Mexicans speak out about crime and corruption.

15. CloudFactory — Kathmandu, Nepal

Based in the Himalayas, CloudFactory has an experienced executive team that has worked for companies such as Adobe, Sun Microsystems, Disney, Google, eBay and Motorola.

It aims to connect a billion people in the developing world to learn basic computer work and teach them how to be leaders in their communities in an effort to address poverty in those regions.

16. Whill — Tokyo, Japan

Image courtesy of Whill

Whill is an add-on to a wheelchair that turns the wheelchair into an electric vehicle capable of traveling longer distances at speeds around 12mph.

It is the next generation of personal mobility and makes transport easier for anybody who has difficulty walking, including the elderly and disabled.

17. Pagpop — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

PagPop is an e-payment platform that allows self-employed and freelancers to accept credit and cards for their fees and sales. It can be accessed through any cellphone, landline and the web.

18. Cumplo — Santiago, Chile

Cumplo is a peer-to-peer lending model that was supported by the StartUp Chile program.

It hopes to benefit from the potential of financial provision in Latin America, a territory where borrowing is prohibitively expensive for those who have to borrow from a retailer rather than a bank.

19. Rubberit — Mexico City, Mexico

Founded in 2012, Rubberit is a discreet condom subscription and delivery service that matches every purchase with a donation to rural communities.

The company was set up after founder May Alba’s close friend, who was HIV-positive, died.

20. Credictive — Krakow, Poland

Still in beta, Credictive is a LinkedIn for creatives and allows them to connect via their work, be it video, music or any other multimedia content.

The site aims to create a community that regulates itself and will flag and block users who try to usurp the system.

21. Prezi — Budapest, Hungary

Prezi is a presentation tool that helps people organize and share their ideas. The cloud-based SaaS software creates a new world between whiteboards and slides.

It uses a freemium model, and all customers who utilize the product’s public license are obliged to publish their work on the publicly available website.

22. Souktel — Ramallah, Palestine

Souktel is a ‘LinkedIn over SMS’ that links people with jobs and also connects aid agencies with communities who need help.

Based on the West Bank, its JobMatch and AidLink technologies are revitalizing prospects for people in this troubled region and across the developing world.

23. Transterra Media — Beirut, Lebanon

Transterra is an online marketplace that brings news, documentary and multimedia from the world’s frontlines to global buyers.

Its contributors range from experienced correspondents, local TV networks and documentary filmmakers to artists, citizen journalists, activists and NGOs.

24. Saya Mobile — Accra, Ghana

Chat messaging clients are hugely popular across Africa and Saya Mobile is a mobile chat app that builds on the success of such services.

It works across the iOS, Android, Blackberry and Java platforms, and is a product of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) based in Ghana.

25. TechSharks — Kabul, Afghanistan

Founded in 2010, TechSharks is a web solution company that is headed by noted Afghan entrepreneur Ahmed Reza Zahedi who graduated from Teheran University in Iran.

“Google is my God, and code is my poetry. Web services, social networks, ecommerce — this is my dream for Afghanistan. Maybe one day we can do it in practice,” he says.

Image courtesy of Judy **

Crowd-sourcing in Syria? Satellite crisis-mapping Imagery Analysis?

What if we crowdsourced satellite imagery analysis of key cities in Syria to identify evidence of mass human rights violations?

Looks like using micro-tasking, with backend triangulation to crowdsource the analysis of high resolution satellite imagery for human rights purposes, is definitely breaking new ground.

This is precisely the question that Patrick Meier and his colleagues at Amnesty International USA’s Science for Human Rights Program are being asked to follow upon.  

Patrick Meier of Crisis Mapping at Ushahid has been publishing posts on mapping Syria military concentration. The post is titled “Help Crowdsource Satellite Imagery Analysis for Syria: Building a Library of Evidence” and says:

“I coordinated this pilot project for Somalia.  AI-USA has done similar work in the past with their Eyes on Darfur project. But using micro-tasking, with backend triangulation to crowdsource the analysis of high resolution satellite imagery for human rights purposes, is definitely breaking new ground.

A staggering amount of new satellite imagery is produced every day. Millions of square kilometers’ worth of images are mapped according to one knowledgeable colleague. This is a big data problem that needs mass human intervention, until the software can catch up.

I recently spoke with Professor Ryan Engstrom, the Director of the Spatial Analysis Lab at George Washington University, and he confirmed that automated algorithms for satellite imagery analysis still have a long, long way to go. So the answer for now has to be human-driven analysis.

Professional satellite imagery experts, who have plenty of time to volunteer their skills, are far and few between.

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), is composed of a very small team and a few interns. Their focus is limited to the Sudan and they are understandably very busy. My colleagues at AI-USA analyze satellite imagery for several conflicts, but this takes them far longer than they’d like and their small team is still constrained given the number of conflicts and vast amounts of imagery that could be analyzed. This explains why they’re interested in crowdsourcing.

Indeed, crowdsourcing imagery analysis has proven to be a workable solution in several other projects & sectors. The “crowd” can indeed scan and tag vast volumes of satellite imagery data when that imagery is “sliced and diced” for micro-tasking.

This is what we did for the Somalia pilot project thanks to the Tomnod platform and the imagery provided by Digital Globe. The yellow triangles below denote the “sliced images” that individual volunteers from the Standby Task Force (SBTF) analyzed and tagged one at a time.

We plan do the same with high resolution satellite imagery of three key cities in Syria selected by the AI-USA team. The specific features we will look for and tag include: ”Burnt and/or darkened building features,” “Roofs absent,” “Blocks on access roads,” “Military equipment in residential areas,” “Equipment/persons on top of buildings indicating potential sniper positions,” “Shelters composed of different materials than surrounding structures,” etc.

SBTF volunteers will be provided with examples of what these features look like from a bird’s eye view and from ground level. Like the Somalia project, only when a feature—say a missing roof—is tagged identically  by at least 3 volunteers will that location be sent to the AI-USA team for review.

In addition, if volunteers are unsure about a particular feature they’re looking at, they’ll take a screenshot of said feature and share it on a dedicated Google Doc for the AI-USA team and other satellite imagery experts from the SBTF team to review. This feedback mechanism is key to ensure accurate tagging and inter-coder reliability.

The screenshots shared will be used to build a larger library of features. For example, what a missing roof looks like as well as military equipment in residential areas, road blocks, etc. Volunteers will also be in touch with the AI-USA team via a dedicated Skype chat.

There will no doubt be a learning curve, but the sooner we climb that learning curve the better. Democratizing satellite imagery analysis is no easy task, and one or two individuals have opined that what we’re trying to do can’t be done. That may be true, but we won’t know unless we try.

This is how innovation happens. We can hypothesize and talk all we want, but concrete results are what ultimately matters. And results are what can help us climb that learning curve. My hope, of course, is that democratizing satellite imagery analysis enables AI-USA to strengthen their advocacy campaigns and makes it harder for perpetrators to commit mass human rights violations.

SBTF volunteers will be carrying out the pilot project this month in collaboration with AI-USA, Tomnod and Digital Globe. How and when the results are shared publicly will be up to the AI-USA team as this will depend on what exactly is found.

In the meantime, a big thanks to Digital Globe, Tomnod and SBTF volunteers for supporting the AI-USA team on this initiative.

If you’re interested in reading more about satellite imagery analysis, the following blog posts may also be of interest:

• Geo-Spatial Technologies for Human Rights
• Tracking Genocide by Remote Sensing
• Human Rights 2.0: Eyes on Darfur
• GIS Technology for Genocide Prevention
• Geo-Spatial Analysis for Global Security
• US Calls for UN Aerial Surveillance to Detect Preparations for Attacks
• Will Using ‘Live’ Satellite Imagery to Prevent War in the Sudan Actually Work?
• Satellite Imagery Analysis of Kenya’s Election Violence: Crisis Mapping by Fire
• Crisis Mapping Uganda: Combining Narratives and GIS to Study Genocide
• Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis for Somalia: Results of Trial Run
• Genghis Khan, Borneo & Galaxies: Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis
• OpenStreetMap’s New Micro-Tasking Platform for Satellite Imagery Tracing

In particular, we are looking to identify the following evidence using high-resolution satellite imagery:

  • Large military equipment
  • Large crowds
  • Checkpoints
The idea is to provide volunteers the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) Satellite Team with as much of road map as possible so they know exactly what they’re looking for in the  satellite imagery they’ll be tagging using the Tomnod system:

Here are some of the links that Chris already sent us for the above imagery:
Comment:  This a great endeavor. I suggest to Patrick Meier to start crowd sourcing on Israeli check-points, road-blocks, concentration of military centers in Jewish colonies in the Palestinian occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Let us be fair and equitable in matters related to human rights, regardless of what States like to define their political systems and disseminate false images.  Palestine is an independent State, recognized by the UN.
Note 1: Patrick Meier, born and raised in Africa, is director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers. Previously co-directed Harvard’s Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning.
Note 2: In one of the many articles I published related to Syria uprising in the last six months I wrote:
Note 3: The same technique is being used for the search of the missing Malaysian airliner this March 2014.  Apparently, about 30,000 registered clients view each of the shots and report whether they have seen any party of the wreckage.  If many report on a shot, the image is sent to a specialist to decide before forwarding the shot to the proper authorities. This search has not been successful so far.




March 2023

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