From more than 900 miles away, Kpetermeni Siakor helped get volunteers to the right neighborhoods in his native Liberia during the height of the Ebola epidemic.
He did it with Ushahidi, crowdsourcing software that was developed in Kenya in 2008, when the country experienced a wave of post-election violence. The word Ushahidi means testimony in Swahili.
"The government had shut down internet connections and radio stations, so Ushahidi was born out of the need to let people know what is happening," says Siakor, 26. He's a computer science student at Ashesi University College in Accra, Ghana, and receives financial support from the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.
In its infancy, citizen journalists would map violent incidents and peace efforts on Ushahidi. Siakor worked with a team that used the software following similarly contentious elections in Liberia in 2011. Afterward, his colleagues continued to run a technology hub in Monrovia called iLab Liberia to develop technology knowledge. When Ebola broke out, they already had a perfect tool to share data and aid emergency responders in real time.
Here's how it worked. Siakor and his team assigned volunteers to the emergency dispatch unit in Liberia, which would receive phone calls from the public reporting any possible Ebola cases. The volunteers would enter details into the Ushahidi system. So the Ministry of Health could see the documents in real-time, as volunteers updated the database. Before using Ushahidi, it took five days or more to get reports on the Ebola cases to the Ministry of Health.