Here is one vision of the mobile future aimed at one of the most (technologically) overlooked segments of the U.S. population…low income and ethnic communities. Imagine a Latino youth living in East Oakland, California – one of the toughest urban neighborhoods in America:
“My name is Jose Gutierrez. I am 18 years old and live in East Oakland, off of International and 24th Streets. We don’t have a computer in my house, and other than Spanish language TV and radio we get all of our information on our mobile phones on LOCOBEAT (fictional).
-On my cell phone I have my neighborhood mapped out. I know which blocks to avoid because of gangbangers & drug dealers (and I get color coded updates from people in my neighborhood when violence happens to help me decide which places to avoid and which safe routes for my little brother Ernesto to take walking to school)
-Neighborhood job openings appear on my mobile map as they are announced, and I get a text message alert when I walk by a store or and business on the street that has an opening.
-I belong to locobeat’s social network that lets me know if I know anybody that knows the person who is looking to hire, and keeps me and my friends connected. We get alerts when friends or friends of friends are nearby and have a color coded system for people we don’t like or the cops come around.
-My friends and I share and rate the music of local rappers and Hip-Hop artists that we like, and we have created our own marketing business that lets everyone know when and where our favorites are playing. We also earn money from ringtone and song downloads, and can mix our own beats on the fly.
-My uncle Jaime is a day laborer, and he gets a text message in Spanish when a day job is available, that tells him where to go…so he doesn’t need to stand out on the street all day.
-My mom uses locobeat to get alerts about fresh vegetables or other things she likes to buy arrive at our local supermarket.
-When I walk by the community center or library my cell phone tells me what events and classes are happening there this week and I can register to attend. Announcements are in Spanish & English.
-My cousin was killed in a drive-by shooting last month, and when you walk by the corner where he was shot, you can hear and see a tribute to him on your phone, along with stories about him from friends and anonymous tips from people who saw it happen and know who did it. Or you can add your own tribute or message that is added to the LocoBeat community news made up mostly of video and voice reports filed by people who live in the community along with news from were we come from in Mexico.”
There are lots of great mobile projects and tools (i.e., mobile banking) aimed at the poor in the developing world, so why not in the US too? What are your ideas for a mobile future in low income and underserved communities, and anyone interested in working on a real LOCOBEAT?