Once again has Ushahidi proven to be a successful platform for crowdsourcing information gathering in large-scale events. Have a look at http://queenslandfloods.crowdmap.com and see how collecting and visualizing reports from different communities form powerful visualizations.
The amount of reports presents an interesting problem when all reports is expected to be positioned on a map. Too often, when the designers are not aware of the massive report volumes, all interesting geographical data becomes covered by “dots” representing single reports. In Ushahidi, they use aggregated numbers to indicate that in the specific area, there are x number of reports. Each individual report is only shown when the zoom level allow that. A simple, yet brilliant solution that too many map-oriented applications completely miss.
It is also worth noting that the reports presented at http://queenslandfloods.crowdmap.com is a combination of both verified as well as unverified reports. Apparently, unverified reports are understood to be valuable until the reports have been verified…yet another clever solution that is in conflict to the often conservative approaches by government agencies.
The use of Ushahidi for the Queensland flooding should serve as inspiration for designers of information systems for emergency and crisis response as well as for managers at national emergency agencies.