The goal of Wikimapa project is to create a virtual map of low income communities and slums by mapping public interest places (Points of Interest or POIs) as hospitals, schools, stores, squares, public sports courts, cultural activities spots and other NGOs, as well as streets bystreets and alleys unmapped and unavailable on online and satellite imaged maps. To achieve this goal, mobile technology resources are being used allied with GPS technology and the online service Google Maps. The idea is not to create a map of slums but to set and integrate the low-income areas on official maps and geography. By setting the slums location on the map and tagging Points of Interest within those areas, Rede Jovem Program, a social program from a Brazilian NGO which is responsible for developing and executing the project; intends to ensure visibility to a lot of good initiatives and structures existing in low-income areas usually only known for its poverty, marginality and violence.
Wikimapa is, as name suggests, a tool created under the collaborative concept, open to the participation of everyone to access, edit and map different locations of any place all over the world. The main tools for building the Wikimapa are website (www.wikimapa.org.br) and a mobile application that enables mapping different kinds of places as streets, bystreets, stores, institutions, hospitals and churches among others through a cell phone.
Since the project is focused on mapping low income communities, for its pilot stage five low income communities from Rio de Janeiro were selected: Complexo do Alemão, Cidade de Deus, Morro do Pavão-Pavãozinho, Morro Santa Marta e Complexo da Maré.
In each one of those communities a young citizen, called wiki-reporter, uses a cell phone equipped with the Wikimapa mobile application, GPS, internet connection and digital camera as main working tool for inserting information about offered services, with historic data and audiovisual registry of each place mapped.
Wikimapa project was idealized and conceived from the perception of the lack and deficiency of interaction, access and usage of web tools and new ICTs – Information and Communication Technologies - by residents of slums and low-income areas of Brazil, faced by impossibilities and technical restraints which only strengthen and confirms the exclusion experienced by that segment of society. Also by the perception of the increasing evolution of new ICTs, especially those related to mobile technology and wiki based platforms, Rede Jovem Program created the Wikimapa.
After approximately one year since Wikimapa web tools launching, the developed social technology was recognized and certificated by the Banco do Brasil Foundation, Petrobras and UNESCO and also received the Mobile Premier Award in Social Change, awarded as the best startup using mobile for social change. The award was offered in partnership with MobileActive.org and Dotopen platform. Rede Jovem was selected the winner among 65 organizations that applied for the competition, being the only initiative awarded in Latin America.
By integrating low-income areas and creating a wiki-web-based system that ensures liability on online maps reflecting the real geography compared to the official one illustrated by main satellite imaged maps and popular online mapping services, Rede Jovem intends to: - create a database with information regarding what exists and happens within low-income communities and slums in order to facilitate and stimulate the access to products and services offered locally by the residents of those areas; - increase the community´s local knowledge and appreciation by its residents and to widen low-income youth’s critical perception; - create geographic references enabling slums and low-income areas residents to use online map services, increasing their self-esteem and belonging sensation.; - reduce social depths by demystifying the slums, known by public opinion only as violence and marginality centers; - stimulate content production by residents of participant slums, transforming them into actors of social change. - foster the construction of an identity sense and empower low-income youth from Brazil by showing all life, commerce, education, entertainment among other good things that happens daily on the slums from Rio, Brazil and so many others from all parts of the globe.
Rede Jovem Program, the organization that conceived and is responsible for Wikimapa project, has the mission to empower low-income youth from Brazil and stimulate their social and civic participation always through the access to new ICTs. Acting in national sphere, Rede Jovem Program works in metropolitan areas from capitals of Brazil, since the year of 2000 and started implementing public IT Centers in partnership with communitarian institutions in low-income communities. Rede Jovem Program was conceived to go beyond mere access to computer technology, even if is initially seen as this by the users. It was conceived as a means of access to education for citizenship using technologies as main tool and resource. Thus, both the virtual environment and the physical space were conceived to contribute towards filling gaps occurring from difficult schooling, to facilitate access to knowledge and universal culture and, at the same time, to stimulate the role of youth as protagonists, constituting an opportunity for improvement and continued education, associated to leisure and to community projects, as an alternative to that which is offered at school and in the work environment. In 2003, Rede Jovem initiated new stage, offering its successful methodologies to other institutions and creating new projects for existing public IT centers. Currently, Rede Jovem Program acts creating projects and web tools for communitarian development and towards promoting youth’s social participation, always trough new technologies. All websites, applications, web tools of each project are developed having collaboration and web 2.0 as main guideline. With Wikimapa project Rede Jovem tries to evolve on how mobile technology may be used to promote social participation. Wikimapa is a wiki based system that may be used for different purposes, by three platforms: website, mobile application, and mobile site. Wikimapa system is also integrated with other social networks such as facebook and orkut and other sites where the pictures and videos are hosted besides the micro blog Twitter (http://twitter.com/wikimapa), used to notify its followers about new places mapped in real time.
As occurs with all web tools and methodologies developed by Rede Jovem, Wikimapa project seeks to stimulate low-income youth´s participation through new ICTs. As wikimapa project is focused on mapping low income communities, for its pilot stage five slums from Rio de Janeiro were selected: Complexo do Alemão, Cidade de Deus, Morro do Pavão-Pavãozinho, Morro Santa Marta e Complexo da Maré. On pilot stage the five wiki-reporters (described on previous sections) participated during 6 months on the competition promoted by Rede Jovem, which offered the reward of a scholarship for studying social communications, in a private university, for the one who inserts more and better local information on the Wikimapa. The wikireporters´ work can be followed on a blog, available in Portuguese on http://blog.wikimapa.org.br/ where they wrote about their daily activities and shared reflections about what they have discovered about the community where they live but until working as wiki-reporter not yet knew. By researching which public interest spots exists within the communities, the wiki-reporters increase their critical perception and begin to act as leading figures of social change by being responsible for producing content about the community, contributing on the construction of a local identity by ensuring visibility of all life, commerce, education, entertainment among other good things that happens daily on the slums from Rio, Brazil and so many others from all parts of the globe. During the process of streets collaborative mapping it was possible to identify expressive change on the relation that residents from benefited communities started to establish with the territory where they live. The marginality sensation inherent on not finding references of theirs occupied space on the world when navigating on virtual maps begun to be replaced by the twinkle that could be seen on youth´s eyes after identifying their streets and schools among many other used services locally available. The results that may be seen are a strengthened sense of identity, increased self-esteem and expressive contribution to local appreciation. This can be clearly noticed on the speech of Rafaela Gonçalves from Santa Marta slum. Before participating on wikimapa project she used to say that lives in Botafogo, the neighborhood where Santa Marta slum is located, and now proudly answers that she lives in Santa Marta community and talks about her place of residence with great enthusiasm. The purpose of wikimapa Project is not to create a map of low-income and slum areas but to integrate and include those areas on the map, providing a new sense of local identity. After the achievement of great results, Rede Jovem believes on the expansion of the project and also on the possibility of answering the received demands to adapt and create new versions of the website and mobile application ensuring replication and appropriation of the developed methodology in other portions of the globe and by much more users. By that Wikimapa will be used as tool to promote social change all over the world by any organization or people committed with the production of a new and inclusive geography to replace the official and existent one that ignores a huge portion of society and population that does not have sufficient purchasing power to rely on the basic infrastructure that ensures access to citizenship. Existing for few time only, Project also counts on over than 500 volunteers registered on wikimapa website to map places from Brazil and other countries. Most of them downloaded the application, adopting wikimapa as main tool for mapping public interest places. Due the fact of not being the unique initiative created to face this huge problem often experienced in low-income areas, the coordination team started to participate on some existent networks for sharing tools and low cost and easy access solutions to enable collaborative and participatory mapping and also for the creation of a reliable cartographic base enabling sense of identity and voice to residents from disadvantaged areas around the world. All this articulation was only possible after the media coverage experienced and the visibility generated with highlights as the international award that Rede Jovem received this year. Wikimapa was selected winner for best startup using mobile for social change on the Mobile Premier Award, awarded in partnership with MobileActive.org. Says Katrin Verclas, director of MobileActive.org: "Rede has shown great innovation in using mobiles for story telling and mapping in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Rede Jovem is effectively showing how mobile phones can be used by young people, for social inclusion, and for their social and political expression. We are impressed!"
Mobile Premier Award in Social Change: best startup using mobile for social change. February 2010, Barcelona. The award was offered in partnership with MobileActive.org and Dotopen platform and Rede Jovem was selected the winner among 65 organizations that applied for the competition, being the only initiative awarded in Latin America.
Wikimapa was certified and recognized as a social technology by Banco do Brasil Foundation, Petrobras and UNESCO.
Once certified, the social technologies integrate the SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY DATABASE of the Banco do Brasil Foundation, an online database available at www.fundacaobancodobrasil.org.br. The award was created to identify and diffuse social technologies, a concept that comprehends replicable products, techniques or methodologies, developed by the interaction with the community that represent effective solutions of social transformation.
Partnership with 134 communitary institutions to share the methodology and implement the project on the 5 benefited slums selected for pilot stage
Highlight news on main newspapers from Brazil (O Dia , JB, O Globo, Info Globo , G1 and Folha de São Paulo), radios (Rádio MEC, Rádiobras e Rádio França Internacional) and TV networks (Redetv News, Jornal da Record e Jornal da Band). International highlights on mobile related blogs, websites and networks - USA, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal among other countries. Ireport on CNN - march 2010.
Over 500 posts about the project on press media, radio, tv networks and online media.
1285 public interest spots mapped in less than one year since wikimapa application launching
83 streets mapped, never before registered on online maps -
over 650 users profiles on wikimapa website. This achievement was absolutely unexpected during pilot stage and indicates a great potential for replication and also the acceptance of users which for Rede Jovem is interpretated as a major success of the validating phase (pilot).
Second stage planning: With all achievements and success obtained with wikimapa pilot stage and also with the recognition of the transfer potential verified, Rede Jovem received funding for developing the second stage of the project which includes developing the mobile application to other operating systems and for other cell phones models besides developing a version of all tools (mobile and website as well as the application) in English to facilitate the appropriation by interested groups and institutions from other portions of the globe.