Taarifa started at the WaterHackathon in 2011 as a bunch of hackers trying to solve the problem around citizen led water delivery, after a pilot and development we ended up winning the global Sanitation Hackathon. But we were still missing something, our community had grown – as had our userbase – both in terms of organisations deploying Taarifa, but in terms of citizens using it to report. But we felt we could do more and be better.
Enter GWOB. GWOB provided us with structure and mentorship. This involved pulling the community together hanging out on a fortnightly basis, linking with up mentors helping us in design, engagement and governance. At times this provided great direction, at other it helped as a sounding board to either validate the community’s thoughts and/or provide a sounding board for discussion. Throughout this process GWOB didn’t charge a cent, they were focused on building a better world for post-hackathon applications, regardless of time and energy.
Then we changed. Taarifa was the subject of a Innovation Challenge of the World Bank. This called for a series of hackathons globally then focusing on Taarifa’s Tanzanian developer community, and expanding it post hackathon with dedicated support. GWOB took care of the hackathon planning and execution in Boston and London, here we rounded off the rough edges around Taarifa and got more developers involved. This is all documented here. Finally, we landed in Tanzania to support the Taarifa community in Dar, GWOB was with us from that hackathon, then supporting in the field from helping convene local community members to eliciting in-depth user feedback and future requirements – making Taarifa more relevant to its users from citizens to water engineers, ultimately improving the local rural water supply.
Please support them, if not for Taarifa, but for any of the other cool projects that they do, Taarifa is just one open source project in the commons. We can improve the world as we see it by supporting the global commons, supporting one project supports it all.
We did it. Last Sunday, the 22nd of October the Taarifa project celebrated its one year anniversary. After starting small with an idea, we grew as a community and as a technology. We’ve found problems and resolved them both technically and how we operate. We’ve had many successes and our community has grown. With our mission of providing the next generation of infrastructure for nations we hope to have many anniversaries to come.
On Friday 14th of September at approximately 1952 the Taarifa organisation was started using OneClickOrg. Our constitution is here: taarifa.oneclickorgs.com. Our aim is to support the development and use of the Taarifa platform. We’ve had deployments in Africa (Uganda and Zimbabwe) and in the UK, however we need to grow to support the usage of Taarifa worldwide. Our Knight Foundation application was one part of this strategy. Our software platform is growing, aided by the Taarifa community. Herein lies the power of the Taarifa project.
A Taarifa organisation serves not just for its coders, hackers and members which develop its tools but should serve those which use and deploy them. From this we now need to consider good documentation and support in addition to good code. In doing so working on new funding avenues, which can sustain Taarifa deployments will be key. These may be in the form of grants but could be in the form of managed deployments, or other funding models.
Are you interested in getting involved in Taarifa? Join the mailing list and say hi, we’d love for you to get in touch!
The Southampton Art House proved an apt venue for hacking on our return to Southampton. Building on the work at the previous hackathon we had a new toy to play with: Djangorifa – The new python version of the Taarifa platform. It’s currently in its very earliest stages of development, but where we’re going is clear, rebuilding from the ground up. The interface focuses purely on the data and reporting on it. If you’re interested in helping us develop it further, join us and check out our github for instructions to get started!
While hackathons on the Taarifa platform are a very good thing indeed, giving a view into how we develop our tools is as important as the hacking itself. With this shedding light on the problem statements, then design process, finally with incorporating lessons learned from deployments is important, and now fully incorporated in how we do things. Part of this is through videos and audio as well as code. Development in this area will get progressively more important as we grow. Our Knight Foundation grant has been submitted but more on this in a later post.
After the success of our first hackathon (where Taarifa was born!) the planning for the second has begun!
Currently we’ve our second event planned for 3-5th of February. Food and drink will be provided,
but we’re looking for a location to host. We need space for 10ish people, wifi in London. If you think you can please get in touch! In return you’ll get eternal gratitude and burritos! The very good people at Shoreditch Works have let us use their new space for our hackathon. Essentially they are made of win. The address is at 32-38 Scrutton Street, EC2A 4RQ. Taarifans assemble at 1030!
We’ll convene on Friday evening for a meal and to discuss priorities for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday is when the hacking will commence! Look forward to seeing YOU there!
Taarifa a project from the London Water Hackathon is now a fully fledged open source project. Currently hosting and the like is being set-up, though taarifa.org. Taarifa is a platform for reporting and workflow of community problems, based from the Ushahidi source code. Currently we’re targeting the Web and Android platforms, but I’m sure we’ll be considering iOS soon.
We’re currently looking for volunteers from any background, be it coding, documenting or design. To get involved ‘check-out’ our code on github: https://github.com/taarifa/. There is also a mailing list through Google Groups: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/taarifa-dev.
Eventually we will be having nightly builds from the bleeding edge being implemented on beta.taarifa.org. Until then please check-out the code!