Sharing Location For a Humanitarian Cause

In time of war and economic downturn, many turn to charities and the general public for help. But how can you find the help you need in today’s modern mobile world? Hyperlocal, of course!

The Middle East has, undoubtedly, seen some changes in the past few months. One of the most noticeable changes is engagement with local civil services to help the underprivileged, the needy, and to synergize contributors’ efforts. Combine that with growing Internet penetration rates, and what technology has to offer, and the opportunities are unlimited. Wasm Media is one company that’s taking action in this climate, with a brand new mobile application named “Nasy” — My People.

Nasy is a free iOS application, available in both English and Arabic, that matches volunteers with projects in their vicinity where they can donate free time and collaborate with socially-engaged initiatives. The service enables you to create projects looking for help or to designate yourself a Volunteer seeking a project to work on.  All of it is location-based, enabling you to connect with those nearby.

Another great example of this is Ushahidi, Inc., a non-profit software company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony” or “witness”) created a website in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election that collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google Map. The features have now been used as well in the Middle East, Haiti and in the US electoral process.

The organization uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as ‘activist mapping’ – the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.

Whether you’re simply seeking to get the vote out, find local workers, or struggling to share the news of a crisis from on the ground to the rest of the world, location-based services can help.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.