The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.
The code is open-source, however. This means anyone can download the source code and utilize it for their own purposes. Think of the learning opportunities for collaborating over distance, particularly for research-styled activities!
Ushahidi's initial, core mission to make transparent incidents of violence and human rights violations is an urgent need. The possibility of its broader uses seem endless.