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Google Maps and Favela’s

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Personally, I like knowing where the Favelas are. The last thing you want to do at night is drive into a Favela that you shouldn’t drive into it.  Granted, the Google Map I live nearby shows Favela Nigera, which I think has long since been torn down…But I get where Rio is coming from if all of the good things about Rio are missing too.

Article I ran across this am on the BBC site:

Google to amend Rio maps over Brazil favela complaints

Googlemap of RioWithout zooming in, favelas take prominence over tourist sites

Google has agreed to amend its map of Rio de Janeiro, after city officials said it gave too much prominence to favelas, Brazilian media report.

Favelas, sprawling shanty towns which are home to tens of thousands of people, are a defining feature of Rio.

But the Globo newspaper said their labelling on the map and the absence of wealthier districts and tourist sites gave a bad impression of the city.

Google told Globo it would change the way the information was displayed.

When viewed in a large-scale format, the maps of Rio pinpoint several of Rio’s more than 600 favelas, including some of the less well-known ones.

The middle class neighbourhood of Cosme Velho – where tourists take the cable car up to the famous statue of Christ – is not labelled, but the smaller Favela da Villa Imaculate Conceicao is.

Sugar Loaf mountain is also not marked and in Humaita, the favela area is labelled in the same size text as the entire district.

Globo warned earlier this week that the map gave a “false impression that the urban area is nothing more than an immense cluster of favelas”.

“The maps turn Rio into a favela,” one resident of Humaita told the paper. “Anyone who doesn’t know the city would be frightened.”

Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello, special secretary of tourism, said the maps were “absurd” and that Google had turned down a request in 2009 that they be changed.

View over favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (file image)Rio’s favelas are clustered around wealthier and more established neighbourhoods

But on Monday, a spokesman for Google told the newspaper the company had never intended to “defame Rio”, and that the person who drew up the maps was a native of the city.

“The problem is a lack of discretion in the way the information has been posted on the map,” said Felix Ximenes, adding that Google had bought the data but then used it without prioritising it.

Mr Ximenes said the maps would gradually be amended to change the text sizes and to apply labels to districts. The favelas would still be marked, but only once the user had zoomed in.

It is not the first time Google has run into trouble over its mapping service.

Earlier this year, the north-west German town of Endem complained that the map gave its harbour to the Netherlands.

And in November 2010, Costa Rica said Google had fuelled a border row with its neighbour Nicaragua, after its map of the region mistakenly placed a disputed island on the Nicaraguan side of the border.

Google apologised and revised its map.


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

One response »

  1. I am all for accuracy on Googlemaps but two questions spring to mind:

    1. Were the Olympics and the World Cup not beckoning would this have been a priority for the special secretary for tourism?

    2. Had it been the other way round, would Globo have complained that certain favelas were misrepresented?!

    I like some of your posts so will put a link to you on my blog! 🙂



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