Burlington Free Press: How Kenyans Helped Vermonters Connect with Sun Power

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 1.05.32 PMIf there were any doubt about this being the era of inter-connectedness for social movements and businesses alike, think again.

The spasm of violence that followed Kenya’s 2008 elections led a couple of young computer devotees there to write software that could map reports of both violence and peace ef­forts. These dispatches could be submitted by reg­ular people from through­out the country, mostly through mobile phones. It’s called ushahidi, which means ‘testimony’ in Swa­hili.

After 45,000 Kenyans suddenly used this re­markable innovation, oth­ers found it could be used in all manner of applica­tions around the world. This open-sourced tool was used here in Vermont after Irene to map disaster damage and coordinate re­covery efforts. Over 1,000 reports were submitted by everyday Vermonters via web, email, twitter and text messages.

That’s when SunCom­mon saw that ushahidi could connect Vermonters interested in renewable energy. As Vermont’s larg­est residential solar busi­ness, we launched a new mapping project this week. SunCommon plotted our 430 solar homes on an online map to show how common solar has become in Vermont.




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