People from all corners of the globe can now revel in the excitement of the 2016 Rio Olympics — even without leaving their home. Google Maps is taking sports enthusiasts right into the heart of Brazil’s famous city, which will be the home of more than 11,000 athletes and some 500,000 tourists in the next two weeks.
The world’s most popular search engine is hard at work partnering with media organizations, such as the BBC, and other content publishers on YouTube, to deliver up-to-date information on the Olympics.
Google Search, for instance, will display country profiles, athlete bios, event info and medal tallies when users search with the keywords: “Olympic Games Rio 2016.” Content creators on YouTube, on the other hand, will also live stream events via mobile.
The most innovative — not to mention, immersive — platform that Google is making good use of is, of course, Google Maps, where Olympic venues can easily be “visited” by netizens via the digital mapping tool Street View.
Beyond The Map: A Closer Look At The Favelas
Given how this grand sporting event is closely set against the colorful backdrop of Brazil’s favelas, or informal settlements, however, one would wonder just how close to the real picture of Rio will be depicted in these Google Street View images.
Underneath the very polished veneer of Rio for the 2016 Olympics, which is also reportedly suffering from low tourism numbers because of the Zika outbreak, there thrives a lively community of urban dwellers — often represented only in news stories about poverty and crime.
Because of the favelas’ notoriety, the Brazilian government has at times left the slum areas out of official maps.
But Google’s Arts & Culture initiative, aptly titled “Beyond the Map,” documents the pulsating rhythm of life in this community, where one in every five people in Rio live. The reports about the favelas, which people see in mainstream media, are “only a small part of the story.”
“The favelas are not simply a place — they are a people,” Google opens the interactive tour.
Of course, there’s the Rio that all the world knows. The images of Ipanema and Copacabana as tropical destinations have sealed Rio’s place on the global map. But then again, there’s that “other” human face of Rio whose vibrancy Google is now seeking to unveil with the help of 360-degree views of the neighborhood.
For the past two years, the internet company has been collaborating with other nonprofit collectives to ultimately map out this uncharted, mysterious yet crucial part of Rio’s city life. The project’s main thrust is simple: to get people to see the favelas in a whole new light. By giving them an address, a place on the map, Google believes, the favelas are given an identity.
And to understand the cultural vibe better: “You must go inside and see for yourself.”
Google Continues To Celebrate Olympic Games Rio 2016
“Beyond the Map” is only one of the many initiatives Google has launched in celebration of the Olympics. The search engine also kicked off Olympic-themed mini games called the 2016 Doodle Fruit Games. True to Rio’s festive identity, the mini games feature fruits with a local flair, introducing a fun and clever way to get people interested in the actual events.
The Rio 2016 Olympics will be held until Aug. 21.
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