The impact of ICTs on social actions for mapping and restoring rivers and streams in the city of São Paulo

Dayana K. Melo da Silva
School of Communications and Arts, University of São Paulo; and Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; dayanamelo@usp.br

ABSTRACT: As the city of São Paulo grew and developed during the latter part of the 19th century and in the course of the 20th, its approximately 300 rivers were gradually built over, causing them to fade from use and public awareness. Various collectives and social initiatives are now engaged in the rediscovery of these watercourses. Using participant observation and document analysis, we investigated their activities and the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the process. Our research showed that, in addition to producing, distributing, storing and retrieving information in the digital environment, collectives and social initiatives also play a role in the creation and development of tools and platforms that reveal São Paulo’s hydrographic network. We conclude that ICTs allow these activist groups to provide São Paulo’s citizens with concrete tools for noticing channelised and buried rivers and streams. We also observe that hybridisation of the physical and digital-informational territories suggests a new way of seeing and occupying the city.

KEYWORDS: Urban rivers, urban collectives, information and communications technology, hybrid territories, São Paulo, Brazil