We interviewed Nathaniel Manning of Ushahidi on their newest project, TenFour

How would you describe your path to having built your app?

We came up with the idea for TenFour because we needed it.

Five years ago, we had a terrorist attack in Nairobi. We had a team there and we were trying to make sure everyone and their family and friends were okay. Everyone basically spent the next few hours just face-in-phone--calling, texting, facebooking, WhatsApping, trying to determine if our 20-person team was safe.

The next day, we discussed it. A lot of time wasted. People were messaging the same people numerous times. Here we are, we build tech used for crisis response and we could have done it better. We asked ourselves, what would have helped in this situation?

What does your app do and how did you arrive at that particular problem as the one that you decided to solve?

TenFour is fundamentally a crisis-emergency check-in tool for people who are responsible for other people: HR managers, school principals, community leaders. Anyone who has a team of folks and you just want to ask, "Is everyone okay?"

In any type of crisis situation, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, it's a way to quickly get responses back. You can triage easily to see who's okay, who's not okay, who hasn't responded.

People can send a message a number of ways, E-mail, SMS, Voice, Slack, Web App, iOS and Android. So there’s no dependence on any one platform or device. You can send across all channels, or choose which ones to use. For instance, in a terrorist attack scenario, you might not want to send a phone call to avoid a phone ringing.

We know that the best tools in a crisis are those that are also used in non-crisis scenarios, and so we developed TenFour to also work as a flash polling tool to ask any sorts of questions across your team(s)—for instance, you could do a quick poll with your engineering team on what their favorite coding language is, or you could send a poll across the whole organization to get votes on what to name a new product.

Do you have any story to tell about the impact of your app?

Last week we had another terrorist attack in Nairobi. I sent a message through TenFour. Basically we were able to triage within 7 minutes--what took hours five years ago.

More on that story in Nat's blog post:

Written by Joan Travis of