The Mobile App That Helps Mexicans Get Across the Border

The Mobile App That Helps Mexicans Get Across the Border

cell-phoneRicardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a small group of cyber activists and artists engaged in developing the theory and practice of Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD).

The EDT has mainly focused its electronic actions against the Mexican and U.S. governments to draw attention to the war being waged against the Zapatistas and others in Mexico.

Their latest project is the development of the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS device based on a cheap cell phone that will help Mexican immigrants safely cross the border.

According to an interview with VICE, Dominguez explains that the primary goal of the Transborder Immigrant Tool is to increase safety during border crossing by directing heavy-footed immigrants to safe routes, shelter, food, water, and friendly sympathizers.

Based on the Virtual Hiker Tool, Dominguez and his research lab BANG (Bits, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes) took the GPS enabled Motorola i455 phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and cracked it to create a simple compass-like navigation system.

“We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway—things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.” Dominguez explains.

man-and-border-patrolDominguez isn’t too concerned about the border authorities impression of the tool either.

“I would imagine they won’t be too happy with us, but again we’re not trying to hide. It’s a safety tool….They’re well aware of who we are and what we do. Once they get full knowledge of the Transborder Immigrant Tool—and we’re very transparent about it—I’m sure they’ll be quite critical.” he says.

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