Ten years have passed since Google first introduced its Street View feature. Street View allows users to virtually walk the streets right from the comfort of their computer or device. A portion of the world is still not available on this feature, yet, in Argentina, there has been a push to incorporate smaller cities and villas, showing a larger reflecting a new set of priorities taking shape in both the private and public sector.
Unlike the areas captured by vehicles equipped with cameras, the villas were explored using equipment attached to a backpack. CityLab explains how the original mapping of neighborhoods, streets, and alleyways was done with the help of villa residents. Following a cohesive map for seven months, Google’s team was able to execute this walk-through.
Recently, the Argentine government issued certificates to individual housing units in the villas, informal housing settlements still trying to gain recognition, that validates the spaces as being government recognized residences. Now with documented addresses, access to public services and social programs becomes a more viable option that was previously off limits.
As public service, the initiative fills in the gray areas on the physical maps that existed in Buenos Aires — literally putting these areas and the residents that call them home on the map. It’s part of a larger process that will hopefully bring the possibility of the national postal service can deliver to those with addresses, and eventually connect homes to utility grids for water, electricity and sanitation systems.
For a private sector, such as the national government, those residents are accounted for and can be integrated into the city. According to Infobae and CityLab, the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) and a number of volunteer organizations are working with the initiative as part of a greater plan to make room for new schools, businesses, and community centers.
Individual and collective efforts from Google, the Argentine government, residents, and the numerous volunteer organizations will improve these settlements and create a more integrated city on the maps and in the streets of Buenos Aires.