The dirt roads and twists and turn of Brazil’s Favelas generally discourage most of the outsiders from taking a tour in these places. However these places houses nearly 1.5 million of the citizens of the country. It has been in news that Google and Microsoft have both been seen mapping their narrow streets and dirt paths.
According to the Wall Street Journal, both companies have recently been working rigorously to accurately map these sprawling communities. But if you think this is some kind of goodwill effort to represent the people of this world more fairly, you are wrong. Google says that though these places are looked down as extremely poor places, almost 85% of the public has mobile phones over there.
Google and Microsoft want to map these areas so they can figure out how to market to the people who live there. Knowing exactly where people live allows Google to sell specific, geo-targeted advertising. Mapping local business can help products to be marketed online. More importantly, there will also now be a way to track buying habits and internet usage with bit more geographic precision.
Before Google and Microsoft decided to commercialize these places and improve the maps here, some institutions have tried to map these places with non or less profitable interest. A non-profit called Redes da Mare has managed to get the Favela of Mare properly represented on Rio de Janerio maps, with street names, addresses, and zip codes. Microsoft is said to team up with this group so that the maps match the way locals think of their community. Google meanwhile is recruiting local volunteers using its MapMaker app to photograph and plot businesses on its maps. Some streets and passageways don’t have official names, so meetings have been held so residents can vote to name them.
Given the ever-changing nature of a Favela-with no development codes, people could easily reroute a street or remove a building at their whim-keeping these neighbourhoods up-to-date will surely keep MapMakers on their toes. It is just a matter of time to see how these Software giants come up with fresh maps of these favelas, which will eventually develop sales and commerce in these places.