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Wireless revolution reaches Brazil’s favelas

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Posted June 27, 2013

Brazilian tour guide Thiago Firmino notices that the two cable cars servicing the working-class neighborhood of Dona Marta, on a steep hillside overlooking Rio, are out of order.

He quickly snaps a photo with his smartphone and sends a complaint via Twitter to the governor of Rio de Janeiro state.

Firmino, 32, always has his smartphone at the ready. In fact, he has two—with different service providers. If he needs to connect with clients, he can. If there is a pothole or broken street light, he complains instantly.

His phones, he says, give him great freedom.

With mass protests sweeping Brazil over public services, corruption and the elevated cost of the 2014 World Cup, mobile phones have become indispensable tools. And that connectivity is finally reaching into some of the most forgotten corners of Rio—the city’s sprawling favelas.

“It was like a small revolution was taking place little by little,” says Firmino, who has a blog for his tour guide business, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In his free time, he works as a disc jockey.

“We exchange text messages, use smartphone apps to send short messages, and we coordinate for protests,” said Firmino, who says he always goes to the demonstrations with his phones fully charged to take photos and tweet them.

Dona Marta, a pocket of poverty in the wealthy southern part of Rio that sees major tourist traffic, was one of the first of the city’s shanty towns to be “pacified” by police and taken over from drug gangs in 2008.

Read more at: Phys.org

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