Omidyar Network — run by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar — is investing $1.4 million in Ushahidi, an open-source emergency alert platform.
Ushahidi works by taking information submited via SMS texts, email, or the Internet, verifying the content, and displaying the information across maps and timelines.
The alert platform was developed during the 2008 Kenyan election crisis when violence erupted over accusation of voter fraud. Ushahidi was developed at the time to collect reports from citizens of activities in the area. The maps were used by relief organisations to respond and for news agencies to track events in the country.
Ushahidi has been deployed in India, Mexico, and various African countries to track elections and medical supplies. Ushahidi will use the funds to start an office in Nairobi, to improve the verification system, and to expand the development team.
This is yet another investment in social media technology for Omidyar Network, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s philanthranpic foundation established in 2004 with his wife Pam. Omidyar’s past investments include Digg, Meetup, Seesmic, Wikia and Wikimedia Foundation,