iHub to host Uchaguzi situation room

By Nekesa Were
  Published 04 Jul 2017
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For the third Kenya election in a row the iHub will host the Uchaguzi situation room. We first hosted the situation room in August 2010 during Kenya’s constitutional referendum vote and for the second time in 2013 for Kenya’s General Election of that year.

In 2010 Ushahidi together with CRECO, Infonet and Hivos convened the Uchaguzi Partnership with the aim of increasing transparency and accountability in Kenya’s referendum of that year, through active citizen participation in the electoral cycle. For the purposes of Uchaguzi Project, the electoral process is perceived as a permanent and recurrent cycle, in which every stage, and not just the Election Day, counts. The Uchaguzi convenors rely on key partnerships for the deployment to be successful and the iHub is one such partner.

The iHub plays several key roles for the Uchaguzi partnership.

Firstly, we host the Uchaguzi community working group meetings that develop and strengthen the Uchaguzi strategy. For example, during this election circle the iHub has already hosted Uchaguzi Community Working Groups on the role of technology and translation in elections, on the role of youth in elections and we’re looking forward to hosting Community Working Groups on the role of women in elections and how to better include people with disabilities in Kenyan elections.

Secondly, we help the Uchaguzi partners to bring together the digital response teams that are the backbone of the project and help in training those volunteers. This is a big effort that brings together 250+ volunteers and trains them in best practices on how to process and manage data in a fast moving deployment. Please see this blogpost on how to sign up as a volunteer.  

Thirdly, we host the Uchaguzi Live Situation Room which processes data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from across the country during the crucial election week. This live situation room has been recognised as one of the key centres of activity during Kenya’s election week. 

Why does the iHub get involved with Uchaguzi in such as meaningful way?

The iHub is Nairobi’s innovation community. We are rooted in the city and the country. What happens in our city and our country directly affects our wellbeing, our families and loved ones and our businesses. It would be shorted sighted for us to pretend that the election does not affect technologists, entrepreneurs, innovators. Uchaguzi gives a way in which techies, utilising their tech skills, can contribute to the election in a positive way by supporting a non partisan platform. The motto for Uchaguzi is Linda Kura Yako (Protect Your Vote).

Secondly, Uchaguzi allows the iHub to collaborate with its international networks and grow its global community. In 2013 we had volunteers from 16 countries participating on the Uchaguzi Platform. In Africa apart from Kenya the Uchaguzi Partnership has deployed for general elections in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The best practices and lessons we learn in Kenya contribute actively in strengthen similar situation rooms across the continent. For example, colleagues from the Reclaim Naija situation room participated in the 2013 Uchaguzi Kenya situation room bringing lessons from their election 2011 and taking back ideas which they successfully executed in their election of 2015.

Thirdly, the training and experience our community members get by participating in Uchaguzi is very valuable. The curriculum is adapted from the wonderful work of the Standby Task Force, Crisis Mappers and Openstreetmap communities which makes the skills very transferable to any other fast moving deployment or crisis map. The skills our members learn during Uchaguzi allow them to play a positive role in humanitarian crises across the world such as earthquake, floods and armed conflict.

Members of the iHub community can take part in Uchaguzi in the following ways:

  • Structuring team: Responsible for converting posts from SMS, Email, and Twitter into the structure of existing surveys.

  • Media Monitoring team: Responsible for monitoring citizen reports via different social media streams, i.e twitter, facebook, blogs, in turn, creating posts from them.

  • Translation team: Responsible for translation of posts from local languages to English.

  • Geolocation team: Responsible for reviewing all posts for location information, and mapping posts that require geolocation.

  • Publishing team: Responsible for reviewing( ensuring correct structure and categorization) and publishing posts

  • Verification team: Responsible for verification of posts.

  • Analysis and research team: Responsible for analyzing data within the platform, and providing situation room reports

  • Technology team: Responsible for maintenance of Uchaguzi platform

Training is mandatory for anyone participating as a volunteer for Uchaguzi, and interested participants must attend AT LEAST ONE training session. Only trained volunteers will be able to join our situation room

The first training session is to be held on Thursday, 6th July 2017 at the iHub Nairobi between 6:00 p.m and 7:30 p.m.

Sign up to join the Uchaguzi team today!

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