Ahead of Olympics, Brazilians map neglected favelas to boost business
By Chris Arsenault
RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With a reputation for being "no go" areas, Rio de Janeiro's favelas are an unlikely attraction for visitors but a project to map the city's slums aims to draw in business from some of the thousands of spectators expected at the Olympic Games.
Rio's sprawling shanty towns are home to about a fifth of the city's population, yet many favelas do not appear on digital maps which adds to the sense of neglect felt by communities living there, activists say.
Internet companies have long had difficulty navigating unmarked streets and collecting data on informally-built neighborhoods covering the hillsides around Rio.
But for the last couple of years, local activists have teamed up with Google in an effort to map the city's slums to "break the barrier of digital exclusion".
"People say they feel like they're part of the city when their communities are included on the map," said Ronan Ramos Jr., coordinator of the On the Map project with the Brazilian charity group Afro-Reggae.
"With this mapping, people (in other parts of Rio) can see the good things going on in the favelas," Ramos Jr. told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
He hopes that some of the 500,000 foreign visitors that are expected to descend on Rio for the Olympics next month will use the map to search for attractions or businesses in the favelas.
"The Olympics is no doubt a good time for the project, and for small, medium and large businesses," he said. Continued...