Online Initiative for Reporting Xenophobic Violence in South Africa
For Quirk eMarketing, merely talking about the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa hasn't been enough, and www.unitedforafrica.co.za is the result - a site which provides real-time, geo-located updates of what's happening in areas affected by the xenophobic violence. This mash-up represents a collaboration between 15 different individuals and NGOs, including the TEDsters who developed Ushahidi.com, Cell-Life, Quirk eMarketing and TAC.
All of them are African, spanning five countries. This system is based on the Ushahidi.com infrastructure and uses the versatility of social media and the utility of the Geo-web (Google Maps) to disseminate information.
"The motivation behind this dissemination of information is evident in the name; this site looks to make a difference by devising a way to make each individual responsible for implementing change through their use of the portal. Ultimately, the portal and its developers seek to play a role in securing unity for Africa," says Quirk in a press statement.
The turnaround time for this project was 48 hours, and Quirk went the extra mile to use its skills in a practical and proactive way. The site takes the form of a Web 2.0 portal that has a range of functions: not only can users upload and download information about the attacks, but it provides journalists with access to information in real time.
It is a community resource that relies on participation from Africans everywhere - individuals with information about attacks can send it via SMS and it will be uploaded to the site immediately. SMS donations can also be made and the details are on the site.
With a database of NGOs involved in mitigating the violence and aiding the victims of it, users can also either get actively involved or find out about ways to donate to those who are doing so. Information can be pulled from a number of custom categories that includes aid and assistance, news, displaced people, sexual assault, deaths, and property that has been lost or destroyed.
Other online initiatives include www.freedomforall.co.za, set up by Mercury Media, which lists the initiatives of businesses and individuals dedicated to ending the xenophobia and assisting those affected; African social media aggregator Afrigator's dedicated page aggregating online coverage of the xenophobic attacks; and Talk Radio 702's victims help list.