Ushahidi BRCK

Jim Lynch
Topics: toolshed
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Here’s some news on a now famous Netsquared alumnus project. Ushahidi is an NGO headquartered in Kenya. It is a nonprofit tech company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and disaster crowd sourced interactive mapping. Ushahidi was a Netsquared Mashup Challenge winner in the fabled 2008 Netsquared conference in Santa Clara California. I first got wind of this from Marnie Webb who co-founded Netsquared.

Ushahidi has built a new IT device called BRCK (pronounced “brick.”) that deals with problem of frequent Internet and electricity outages in much of the developing world. BRCK is a wi-fi router and mobile modem in one. It has eight hours of battery life to keep it going when the power runs out.

It can sit in an office or school connected by ethernet and if that goes out it can switch to a 3G or 4G connection. It supports up to 20 wireless connections and has 16 gigabytes of storage so it can work as a back-up network drive. The device can also be plugged into solar power chargers, making it well-suited for field work or rural environments. It is also hardened to handle the heat and dust typical of much of the developing world.

Ushahidi is making 2,000 devices for the initial, Kickstarter run. It hopes to bring the price down from the present $200 to make it affordable for the African market. Find out more about this here.