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October 19, 2009 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Women are finally putting Rio's favelas on the map. They're competing for a journalism scholarship by loading the most data from their GPS-enabled phones to Wikimapa (a name easily confused with Wikimapia). The data, including addresses, photos, and business details are not likely to be collected by Navteq's and Google's high-tech vans anytime soon due to the notorious danger.

FYI, the quality of the GPS data they're getting with the phones may not be usable for much, but it's still a great idea and could be the start of something useful.
posted by ATXile (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Related: The New Yorker recently ran an article about gang life in Rio's favelas.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:46 PM on October 19, 2009


I was going to suggest the New Yorker article. Here is a really interesting article from the Harvard Design Magazine about the implications of mapping the favelas:

It is unclear what the political effects of greater access to spatial information like that collected by Google Earth will be. Earlier this year, before Rio's military police entered favelas with tanks and automatic weapons, occupying them for weeks and effectively turning daily life into war, they consulted Google maps to plan their operations. Spatial information can also be a source of political agency: recently satellite photos were used by human rights groups to corroborate eyewitness accounts of human rights abuses on the border between Thailand and Burma. ...

Cities like Rio de Janeiro and, perhaps more urgently, cities like Lima, which are more than half informal, must be represented in new ways. Informality requires a rethinking of mapping, both of informal areas and of the city as a whole. The invisibility of the informal sets it apart from other modes of urban life and produces a different and problematic relationship to representation. Since it evades “the bureaucratic gaze,” it also has forms of citizenship that fall by the wayside but that must be recuperated in some way. The geography of informality—its enclaves and networks or islands and currents—presents barriers to political representation and social inclusion. But in the many ways in which the favela and the informal exceed the boundaries and borders that seem to contain them, they also present the potential for forms of community solidarity and the claiming of the “right to the city.”

posted by Forktine at 8:14 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


OpenStreetMap Foundation's Mikel Maron is about to drop into the slums of Kibera for a very similar project that aims to create a complete mapping of Africa's largest slum.
posted by migurski at 11:38 PM on October 19, 2009


I saw somewhere an article about a South American slum where the state had used the US Army/Marine Corps Field Counterinsurgency Manual as a playbook in ... reincorporating the land/people. Apparently the cocaine dealers were acting as the local security forces, and people trusted them more than the cops.

I suspect this is not an isolated place, or an unusual response.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:56 AM on October 20, 2009


Apparently the cocaine dealers were acting as the local security forces, and people trusted them more than the cops. :: common situation (Brazil)

I saw somewhere an article about a South American slum where the state had used the US Army/Marine Corps Field Counterinsurgency Manual as a playbook in ... reincorporating the land/people. :: sadly, not uncommon. Indeed, one of the communities mapped in the above post (Santa Marta) was also recently "pacified."

This is a nice post/project; thank you for posting it. You can also see Rafaela Gonçalves da Silva's profile and from that, maybe more importantly, her photos on flickr.

For anyone who hasn't spent time in a favela, I encourage you to look at her pictures and to read more about her and her community. There is a lot more out there than drugs, violence, and corrupt police. When more than a million people can live in a "favela" (e.g. Rocinha, RJ), the vast majority of them are living perfectly normal but really tough lives.
posted by whatzit at 3:23 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Man, I always have zero problems. My brain translated 100,000 to 1,000,000. Population should be more than 100,000. Desculpa.)
posted by whatzit at 3:25 AM on October 20, 2009


I took a favela tour in Rio in 2000. Most interesting, because our tour guide, a certain American ex-pat named "Richard" was a confirmed cocaine user. During the tour we encountered a young man in flip-flops, tank-top and running shorts standing in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. Healthy and prosperous, he was most friendly as he showed us a handful of cocaine packets wrapped in bits of plastic baggie. He also smiled as he showed us his shiny .45 that he drew from his other pocket. I do not doubt that he was the expression of the law on his corner.
posted by telstar at 2:03 AM on October 21, 2009


Brazil is having to grapple with the implications of having cut off the favelas so totally from the normal city services -- along with the lack of mapping comes a lack of policing and other basic necessities. The shooting down of a police helicopter during a police operation in a favela the other day has provided a quite graphic example of how far the favelas are from being incorporated into the formal city. Mapping them won't end the violence, but reincorporation won't happen without mapping.
posted by Forktine at 2:29 AM on October 21, 2009


Hmmm, when I was in Rio in 2000, there had also recently been a cop chopper shot down from the favelas (with surface-to-air missiles, no less!). The tone of the NYtimes article seemed to imply that this was a scary new level of violence, but as usual, everything in the US media concerning the world outside the US must be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by telstar at 2:31 AM on November 2, 2009


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