Voices of Youth: Mapping Environmental Issues in Rio de Janerio

Sustainability Problem: There is often a lack of awareness and access to information regarding community risks in communities in developing countries.  Physical risks such as buildings or roads near collapse, open sewage, piles of garbage – as well as other issues related to sanitation, water and deteriorating infrastructure could pose great risks to community members, especially for children.  In the absence of real-time information, government agencies and public services will fail to provide the necessary response systems to address these key issues.

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  • Open-source mapping platform that could be used by verified individuals (including youth members who have been trained to produce these geo-tagged reports) to create location specific reports using their personal mobile phones
  • The idea was to make the information collection process low-cost and easy, using methods/technology that are already being used by the communities themselves, such as mobile phones
  • Reports are uploaded on a web-based platform to visualize locations of community “hot spots”, which could be used to visualize risk, services, or even social spaces for the community members to meet

Link to interactive map: http://rio.unicef-gis.org/

Technology stakeholders:

  • Community members with access to mobile phones
  • Local government
  • MIT Mobile Experience Lab


  • Train more community members to participate in producing geo-tagged reports, to create a more comprehensive database of community risks
  • Government to use existing crowd-sourced data to improve public spaces and deteriorating infrastructure and develop necessary response systems






4 thoughts on “Voices of Youth: Mapping Environmental Issues in Rio de Janerio

  1. Participation may also increase local interest in keeping spaces clean. Rio needs quick and easy clean up now more than ever. Another step might be to link the information directly to volunteers and NGOs rather than the government, which is currently underfunded and riddled with scandal and instability.


    • I agree with the point you mentioned @ejk2162 – linking this information directly to organizations or agencies that are not controlled by the central government might be more effective. I don’t know how the data is currently being used, after it has been uploaded onto the platform – but it definitely has a lot of potential and could be extremely useful for improving the quality of public spaces or community health and safety.


  2. Very interesting concept, is this available in other ares or specific to Rio? Seems like good platform to engage community involvement and could be used for multiple purposes.


    • Thanks for the comment @jds2248 – I think Rio is the pilot site for this project, and I haven’t seen anything on the web regarding expanding the use of this particular tool. But I agree, it is definitely is a great platform that could be used for various purposes.


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