Ushahidi is a very cool grassroots, crowd-sourcing experiment in which reports from ordinary citizens (in the form of text messages) are aggregated to provide important real time data on everything from post-election violence to stock-outs of important medical supplies to now-in Haiti-the locations and needs of people requiring critical attention.
Ushahidi works with another group called Frontline SMS, founded by Ken Bank. Frontline SMS is a software tool that non-profits can use to allow their constituents to communicate with them via SMS. Its been used by Ushahidi and hundreds of other organizations now for hundreds of different purposes and now houses Frontline SMS Medic and Frontline Credit SMS-two very cool applications of Frontline SMS software that address medical issues and access to credit respectively. These guys, Ken, Josh, and Ben, along with Erik, are working on the cutting edge of something new and very, very important for the social sector.
I think what sets them apart from a lot of other people doing similar things is their empathy. A lot of people are working on things because they ostensibly want to help people, but few people have the empathy to really get who they are working for and the humility to realize that, at the end of the day, its the solution that matters and not the person who created it. These guys have that figured out I think and that’s why I believe that even though things are still really just coming out of launch stage, these guys will be around and innovating for a long, long time.