Google, Microsoft Expose Brazil’s Favelas

September 26, 2014

Will Connors – The Wall Street Journal, 9/25/2014

For decades, favelas, the dense working-class neighborhoods that now house nearly a quarter of this city’s population, didn’t exist on city maps.

Officials considered the informal settlements dangerous eyesores, and they refused to send in cartographers or provide official addresses. But frustrated residents began mapping the communities themselves, hoping to pressure authorities into providing more public services.

Now those efforts are getting a boost from two of the world’s biggest technology companies. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have started mapping efforts in recent months in several Rio favelas. Relying largely on community groups, the companies plan to map everything from twisting, narrow alleyways to hole-in-the-wall laundromats.

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Brazil Files Bribery Charges in Embraer Aircraft Sale to Dominican Republic

September 24, 2014

Joe Palazzolo and Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 9/23/2014

Brazilian authorities have filed a criminal action against eight Embraer SA employees accusing them of bribing officials in the Dominican Republic in return for a $92 million contract to provide the country’s armed forces with attack planes.

The criminal complaint, filed under seal and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, marks one of the first known efforts by Brazil to prosecute its citizens for allegedly paying bribes abroad, a milestone achieved with help from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The U.S. agencies are also investigating the company’s dealings in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere and have provided their Brazilian counterparts with evidence, according to a request last year for legal assistance from Brazilian prosecutors.

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Brazil’s idea for future mobility: the good old bus

September 23, 2014

Meera Senthilingam – CNN, 09/22/2014

Autonomous vehicles, levitating trains and supersonic tubes have all been suggested as radical ways to transport us faster as the new urban age approaches, but it seems the real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along — the bus.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems are paving the way for sustainable, efficient, and affordable travel and now operate in 181 cities worldwide. But they’re not just your regular bus service. Exclusive bus lanes dominate the center of roads, prepaid tickets prevent delays when boarding and raised platforms at bus stops make you level with the bus floor to get on.

These small details all make for a smooth, slick service to help you reach your destination in record time and its nothing new, the first system was pioneered 40 years ago.

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Coursera launches in Brazil, becomes first online education provider to partner with its public universities

September 18, 2014

Emil Protalinski – TNW, 09/17/2014

Coursera today announced it is officially launching in Brazil. The company is teaming up with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), its first university partners in Latin America to offer Portuguese courses.

That’s not the only first. Coursera is the first open online education provider to partner with Brazil’s top universities. Furthermore, the move today also means it is offering its first native Portuguese courses for learners not just in Brazil, but across the globe.

The two universities will develop courses targeted at Brazilian learners in high-demand topics from entrepreneurship to finance, slated for early next year. Coursera has also struck a deal with R7, one of Brazil’s largest web portals, to increase awareness of these new educational opportunities by featuring its courses.

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Brazil building Amazon observation tower to monitor climate change impact

September 15, 2014

Agence France-Presse – The Guardian, 09/14/2014

Brazil is building a giant observation tower in the heart of the Amazon to monitor climate change and its impact on the region’s sensitive ecosystem, a newspaper has reported. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory is a project of Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany’s Max Planck Institute, O Estado de São Paulo said.

The tower, which will rise 325 metres from the ground, will be equipped with high-tech instruments and an observatory to monitor relationships between the jungle and the atmosphere. It will gather data on heat, water, carbon gas, winds, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns.

The project has been seven years in the making, with a site finally being selected far from any human presence, about 100 miles from Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, project coordinator Antonio Manzi told the newspaper.

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Some companies profit as Brazil struggles to secure power

September 12, 2014

Todd Benson and Marguerita Choy – Reuters, 9/11/2014

A small group of energy companies in Brazil are increasing revenues at a time when the country is grappling with its worst power crisis in more than a decade, taking advantage of sky-high prices to sell electricity in the spot market.

Power generators that have managed to produce extra energy in recent months or who aren’t restricted by long-term supply contracts are being rewarded with prices up to six times higher than the average cost on conventional electricity contracts.

At the same time, distributors that had to resort to the short-term market to fulfill demand increases are facing financial burdens and are being rescued by the government.

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Some companies profit as Brazil struggles to secure power

September 11, 2014

Todd Benson and Marguerita Choy – Reuters, 09/11/2014

A small group of energy companies in Brazil are increasing revenues at a time when the country is grappling with its worst power crisis in more than a decade, taking advantage of sky-high prices to sell electricity in the spot market.

Power generators that have managed to produce extra energy in recent months or who aren’t restricted by long-term supply contracts are being rewarded with prices up to six times higher than the average cost on conventional electricity contracts.

At the same time, distributors that had to resort to the short-term market to fulfill demand increases are facing financial burdens and are being rescued by the government. The situation underscores the imbalances of the Brazilian power system, which has come under stress because of a prolonged drought. The energy crunch has also become a hot topic in Brazil’s presidential race, with the government facing criticism for not ensuring a stable power supply at reasonable prices.

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