As with any TED Talk – this talk lasts a good 18 minutes but it is worth watching through to the end. It is a phenomenal story of how ordinary people are achieving incredible things that are not only making a difference but are actually changing the world – one map at a time.

Patrick Meier tells of how he started to build the first crisis map using the open source technology created by Ushahidi. He literally started to create maps that helped the aid workers to save lives in Haiti shortly after the earthquake caused such devastation in January 2010. Within a very short period of time he was not able to keep up with the information being sent to him and soon recruited fellow students to volunteer their time to help with building the crisis maps with him.

One of the consequences of this tiny step by one person to do something, a movement was born in which the Standby Task Force emerged. It now has over 600 volunteers who come together in times of need to help people all over the world.

Ushahidi originated in Africa (please note – not Silicon Valley!) and is being used to make a difference world wide. They are a non-profit tech company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping and was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008.

For me this is a remarkable example of ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things and an amazing illustration of what can happen when we join the community of mankind and collaborate to make a difference in the world.

From the TED YouTube page …

“Maps have always been a source of fascination and intrigue. Today’s maps, however, can also help to save lives during disasters, document human rights abuses and monitor elections in countries under repressive rule. This presentation will explain how today’s live maps can combine crowds and clouds to drive social change.

Patrick Meier is Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi—a non-profit technology company voted by MIT’s Technology Review as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world alongside Facebook. Patrick is also co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers and previously co-directed Harvard University’s Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning.

This year’s TEDxKC program, If Only. Only If., examines how radical collaboration, transparency and an open-source mind-set are shaping our world. More information about TEDxKC can be found at:”

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