The Situation Room in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Situation Room in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Image by tlupic (flickr)

What happened?

Sierra Leonean civil society had unprecedented access to real-time data on the conduct of the country's national election in 2012. Throughout Election Day, a Situation Room in Freetown received more than 20,000 coded SMS reports, sent by trained domestic observers from polling stations across the country. The messages contanied 43,406 pieces of data on the status of the election - covering everything from the opening times of polling stations at 7.15am through to voter demographics to statistically significant results information.The data was deciphered, verified and mapped using OneWorld’s real-time monitoring platform, enabling our Sierra Leonean partner, National Election Watch (NEW), to make informed and immediate interventions before potential problems could spiral out of control.

NEW was able to use the data to inform the public on Election Day and immediately afterward about the conduct of the elections, calling the polls "peaceful and transparent." The data collected also enabled NEW to draw informed conclusions about the legitimacy of the official results.

Why did we do it?
Traditionally, collecting and analyzing data from election monitors can take hours or even days. While the information they send is useful for writing reports after the event, this is far too late to affect the course of the election itself. A Situation Room, powered with real-time data from a statistically significant sample of polling stations, enables civil society leaders to coordinate immediate responses to serious incidents and to make informed pronouncements about the status of the elections as they are happening. 

Where can I see it?
Internet connectivity in Freetown is unreliable, so the entire real-time monitoring platform was designed to work offline in the Situation Room. However, as and when internet was available, all but the most sensitive data was also uploaded to, allowing people around the world to follow the election. The data is visualised via a map and regional charts, showing the 'big picture' as well enabling interested users to zoom down and check the status of individual polling stations.

Supported by: OSIWA, DFID


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