Poor access to public services in marginalized communities increases their vulnerability; technology can contribute to making these services more accessible. Reducing the digital divide can help communities to be prepared for unexpected risks. The thesis statement presented is that information, linked with citizen participation through community commitment and technology, can enhance the resilience of marginalized communities. The tools proposed to achieve this are community mapping, citizen complaint tools and Service Location Analysis.
To answer the question How can proper data use improve people’s life, we study the case of a community that lacks adequate preparation against possible crisis, in comparison to two cases of communities that have been successful in doing so. [Case study: the community of Tizilingo, in Xochimilco (Mexico City).]
Aspects considered in the study include the analysis of its economic and social needs; poor access to public services; present risks and challenges to overcome; preparation of the community to act in a crisis; and types of problems faced by the community.
The study also contemplates the analysis of a community in Haiti and another one in Kenya, where community mapping tools have been put into use. Both cases demonstrate how wider access to technology paralleled by citizen participation can improve life quality and responsiveness to emergencies in vulnerable communities.
There are still considerable challenges, for instance How to take technology tools to communities with high levels of marginalization, or How to reduce the digital divide at the lowest possible cost? The use of technology tools in vulnerable communities is an opportunity not only for academic research, but also for its development and application through public policies to solve real problems. Information and community participation contribute to the development of better prepared and more equal societies.