Nairobi Mall Siege Inspires Simple Group Check-In Tool

The tragic event compelled nonprofit tech company Ushahidi to create a rough draft of a tool that eventually can be used by even the simplest cell phones. They've posted the code online in hopes that others will help finish it.

What's the Latest Development?

Recent events at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, in which over 60 people were killed at the hands of terrorist group Al-Shabaab, have inspired Ushahidi -- a nonprofit tech company founded in Kenya -- to build the structure for a basic software tool that will allow groups of people to use their phones to check on each other in case of an emergency. Named Ping, it lets users create a list of contacts to which a 120-character message, ending with "Are you ok?" can be sent via text or e-mail. The message goes out continuously until people respond. For those who don't respond, the tool will text their emergency contacts in an attempt to locate them.

What's the Big Idea?

Although this type of instant group check-in technology already exists, Ushahidi executive Erik Hersman explained on the company's blog that they're targeting a bigger user base: "[W]e have a need to make it work for even the simplest phones. Our goal is to have this available for anyone globally to use." Interested volunteers are invited to help further flesh out the tool at Github, where they've posted the code.

Photo Credit:

Read it at FastCompany/Co.Exist

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

The philosophy of tragedy & the tragedy of philosophy - with Simon Critchley

Tragedy in art, from Ancient Greece to Breaking Bad, resists all our efforts to tie reality up in a neat bow, to draw some edifying lesson from it. Instead it confronts us with our own limitations, leaving us scrabbling in the rubble of certainty to figure out what's next.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why democracy has been unpopular with philosophers
  • Tragedy's reminder that the past isn't finished with us
  • …and why we need art in the first place
Keep reading Show less

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 


Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less