Mapping via Cell Phone in Brazil

Caitlin Dempsey


A Brazilian non-profit by the name of Rede Jovem (meaning roughly “Youth Net”) is helping to map the slums or favelas with the use of GPS-enabled phones and a small team of 17-25 year old high school students:

The reporters use GPS-equipped Nokia N95s and a mobile application developed by Rede Jovem that uses Google maps.  As they move through the favelas, they label corners, streets and bystreets. The reporters can also add photos or video directly from their phones, and label places like restaurants and hospitals. There is both a website,, and a mobile site for the resulting maps. Content added to the maps is also automatically added to a Twitter feed.

The student that maps the most information will win a scholarship to study journalism at a private school.  Interestingly, the team is entirely map up of young women.  Entering a favela with an expensive cell phone wasn’t appealing to young men who fear being approached by the police or otherwise being hassled.

Read more: Using Mobile Phones to Map the Slums of Brazil

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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