Open-Source Crisis Mapping

The new AT&T T-Mobile merger has raised fears among Internet-privacy folks that further attacks on Net neutrality may be forthcoming. If anything is a testament as to why the Internet should stay free, open, and available to all, its Ushahidi -- a crowd surfacing platform that allows users to input data to create crisis maps; check out this one of disaster areas in Haiti. According to an NPR story about the platform, aid workers rely on it for data. In tech-savvy Japan, it's been critical in helping the country understand the extent of earthquake damage, and businessmen have volunteered to provide hundreds of free cell phones to the Japanese so they can create an accurate, crowd-sourced map. Can you imagine what it could do for the 2010 or 2012 elections? You could build maps on political visibility -- where a candidate has signs, where they've gone door to door, etc. Like I said, one more reason to keep the web open and free - even if its just for political junkies like me.