Digital inclusion projects usually propose to bring internet to underserved communities or offer computer courses. Only this time, Microsoft decided to bet on a different path: map slums to include them in Bing Maps.
Microsoft should take the initiative for low-income communities in various parts of the world, after all, the company’s calculations, there is no mapping in over 99% of these sites. But the subject of study at the beginning, is in Brazilian favelas.
The question you might be asking is how the digital mapping of these places may benefit its residents? In many ways, but in view of Stefan Weitz, senior director of Bing, the main one is to stimulate economic activity within the community.
These places can be poor, but they have bakeries, grocery stores, beauty salon and other small businesses, although informal. With the mapping, you can give more visibility and encourage access to these establishments from tools integrated with Bing Maps, like Foursquare.
It makes sense: for low-income people, cell phones have been shown as the main form of internet access. Since mobile networks are already serving an essential role in digital inclusion, the next step is to make them more useful.
Of course, the challenges are immense. There is the issue of the difficulty of coverage in dense communities, besides the risk of problems security access to sites with a strong presence of organized crime, for example.
Anyway, the work has already begun. In the post on the subject, Microsoft said, without going into details and without specifying deadlines, a team in Brazil is already committed to design the necessary infrastructure to do the mapping.