David Eaves wrote a great post today highlighting the opportunity for Open311 integration with the Ushahidi platform. I ended up responding with a long comment and figured I’d post it here as well – particularly since we’re long overdue for an update and because I’ve covered many of the cities, vendors, and companies working on Open311 implementation, but haven’t covered the recent wave of open source efforts. In any case, here’s my response to David’s post:
Thanks for writing this up David. I expressed a similar sentiment in a post I wrote last year called Reporting Issues for All Occasions and during the RHOK event you linked to I did in fact finish initial integration of the Open311 GeoReport v2 spec with Ushahidi. There’s a demo of it up at http://ushahidi.georeport.org with familiar GeoReport endpoints being
This isn’t complete though and it’s not packaged in a way that integrates well with the rest of the Ushahidi codebase. I’m long overdue in better coordinating this with folks like Erik and others on the Ushahidi developer list where I’ve been lurking, but there are a number of efforts underway which will surely bring more of full Open311 support to Ushahidi. If there are folks interested in this, please let us know on our respective mailing lists:
It’s also worth noting that there are a number of other open source systems much like Ushahidi which have been working on support for Open311 GeoReport v2. These include two of the FixMyStreet codebases and Mark-a-spot.
I should also state two of the main shortcomings with Ushahidi in it’s current state which I hope can be addressed with more developer involvement. 1) Ushahidi is great for simple reporting of problems, but needs more robust features to triage, assign, and track them 2) Ushahidi doesn’t currently use a true geospatial database, so you are limited in your ability to do things like query reports by a “geo-fence” (a polygon).
Accommodating features like this was part of our thinking in providing the benefit of a geospatial database for the Trac issue tracking system with GeoTrac and I think things like that can be part of a diverse ecosystem of issue tracking systems and Open311 implementations.
Currently, Ushahidi has the broadest number of international deployments and developers, so in my mind it’s one of the best places to focus for Open311 integration and it’s where I plan to put a great deal of my attention this year, but ultimately the goal is to let a diverse ecosystem form on top of a common platform.