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

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

Scientists find a horrible new way cocaine can damage your brain

Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.

Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
  • Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
  • Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Keep reading Show less