Youth Led Digital Mapping to Lower Social and Environmental Dangers in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro
(video produced by UNICEF, which summarizes the first stage of the initiative)
InSTEDD’s iLab Latin America has been working with UNICEF, the Brazilian NGO CEDAPS (Center Promoção da Saúde) and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on a project focused on a youth led initiative using low cost technology to digitally map social and environmental risk factors in five favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The goal was to give greater visibility of dangerous risk factors to the public and the government so that action can be taken to solve the problems. With the support of MIT and UNICEF, the iLab Latin America was able to provide support for this project by participating in several workshops and providing technical support to the on the ground teams in order to improve the interaction design and optimize the platform developed by MIT.
In order to create maps that were up-to-date, accurate and useful, the project focused on involving the youth that live in the communities they wanted to map. The idea was that the information needed to be collected easily through low cost technology from the communities themselves. In order to do this, the project relied on two methods:
1) Cell Phone Reporting
An Android application developed by MIT was used by the youth living in the favelas, with the support of CEDAPS, to help them report various risk factors they detected in the favelas. They selected the issue category, added a brief description of the problem, took a digital photo with the cell phone, and using the phone’s built in GPS they were able to assign the issue to a particular location. All of that information was uploaded to a public website, either from the internet enabled phone in the field, or at the end of the day from the computer at the office.
2) Kite and Balloon Aerial Photography
In order to show all of the issues reported on an accurate map, it was important to have up-to-date Aerial images of the favelas. A creative and low cost solution to map the favelas was developed using a combination of low cost digital cameras and kites. By attaching the digital cameras to kites and balloons, this allowed for them to accurate map the favelas in a way that was even more clear and updated than Google Maps.
This initiative allows the youth living in the favelas to be actively involved in raising awareness about the problems affecting their communities. Some of the problems include:
- Environmental Degradation
Below is a short video explanation of the project through an interview with the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at CEDAPS, Ives Rocha.
To learn more about this project, please follow the below links for the original Spanish language content on the iLab Latin America website: