"Crowd-sourcing" is a new buzzword in the world of humanitarian information. The combined power of mobile phones, mapping technology and social networking can enable citizens in crisis to seek help, facilitate aid deliveries, bear witness to abuses and hold governments and aid agencies more accountable, advocates say.
Crowd-sourcing on platforms including Ushahidi, for example, [http://ushahidi.com] [http://irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89473] took place on an unprecedented scale after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. According to those involved, the impact it had is undeniable: communities were able to report their needs while accurate street maps were created for humanitarians and search and rescue teams trying to save lives.
Crowd-sourcing had been used in previous emergencies, such as the Wikis [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki] created to map Hurricane Katrina and bird flu, but none seemed to have a life beyond the particular incident," said Microsoft's Nigel Snoad, an adviser to the ICT4Peace Foundation [http://www.ict4peace.org]. "But in Haiti, Ushahidi and its partners seemed to have a real impact on the way the humanitarian response worked.