I had first heard about “Meu Rio” in a discussion about the impact of technology in big cities. Later on, many people mentioned this project as a potential game-changer in the Brazilian landscape.
I was therefore curious to know more about their work, and so I met with Miguel, co-founder of Meu Rio, who coincidently has studied in France and speaks perfect French.
Meu Rio is a digital interface for civic engagement. Anybody living in the city can log on to the website and denounce a problem and launch a campaign to fix it. The issues are usually targeted and very local, such as the price of a ferry ticket or the cutting of a tree on a specific street. Miguel’s first concern when talking to me was to mention that Meu Rio was both non-for-profit and non-partisan.
However, Meu Rio gives a voice to any civilian who wants to point out things that need fixing and in that sense, despite Meu Rio’s nonpartisan positioning (not supporting any party or politician in Brazil) it is extremely political! Indeed it operates as a tool for direct democracy, by empowering the citizens.
Miguel gave me an example of an interface they have called panela de pressão ( the pressure cooker), in which not only can people denounce an issue, but every time a person signs up to denounce that same issue, it sends an email, tweet or Facebook post to the politician responsible for this issue. The pressure cooker has become such a success that some politicians no longer allow posts on their Facebook page!
The moment you hear something like this, you know that Meu Rio could indeed become a game changer not only in the civic engagement of the cariocas but also in the way the city is managed.
I met Miguel before the beginning of the protests in Brazil. But in my opinion, the current events which have a lot to do with civic empowerment, give another dimension to their work.
Good luck Meu Rio !