Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili, a reference to the nonprofit’s origins in Kenya where, during the 2008 elections, the company developed a crowd- sourced mapping platform to alert citizens to protests, violence, and election results in real time. Unreliable connectivity in the region, however, limited data flow. In response, Ushahidi went on to develop the BRCK, a robust, portable hub designed to create Internet networks in places where there is little or no basic infrastructure, or during power outages. BRCK works by tethering to whichever networks are available—Ethernet, WiFi, or telecommunications systems via its SIM card—and can switch between them as necessary without disrupting user service.
Tim Berners-Lee proclaimed in 2012 that the digital age “is for everyone,” and yet current statistics show that around sixty percent of the global population has no access to the Internet, one of the most basic digital communication tools of our time. Of those who do have Internet access, approximately seventy-five percent are concentrated in just twenty countries.
Gallery label from This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good, February 14, 2015–January 31, 2016.