Youth Mapping Urban Risks

Our platform and application is helping youth in favelas better their communities.

Youth in underserved communities often live in unmapped areas where little is known about the actual geography of services and interactions that shape their daily lives. To respond to this, we developed technologies that help youth inform policy and decision making. Working with the UNICEF country office in Brazil and building on the Lab’s Locast media platform, we created a digital mapping platform using mobile and Web applications that allow youth in the favela (slum) neighborhoods of Sao Paulo to map their neighborhoods, identify where governmental and non-governmental services exist or may be missing, address issues of accessibility for young people, point specifically to places where young people face particular risks or hazards (actional items related to infrastructure and the environment), and locate public social spaces where the community is coming together. As a result, favela youth are helping make their communities better.

During a one week educational workshop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, youth from the city tested the platform. Ranging in age from early to late teens, the workshop participants used mobile phones to build digital, multimedia maps showing a variety of issues in their communities. Through this hands-on investigation, youth were encouraged to think critically about how maps and new digital tools can inform community discourses on economic, environmental and social sustainability.


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