Coyotek Immigrant Safety Technologies

“Artivist” Ricardo Dominguez and his Chicana Coyotek Gangs are building a GPS tool for US-Mexico border crossers for the simple purpose of helping crossers not die. It’s called the Transborder Immigration Tool and it is out of CalIT2 in San Diego.

In an OC Register article about the work is not surprisingly focused on the anti-immigration activists the project enrages or annoys. Dominguez seems to have been somewhat successful in staking out a common ground of human decency. The Minuteman border guard agrees: “I’m sure his intentions are good. He doesn’t want people to die in the desert. I don’t want people to die in the desert either.”

It is cool to see technologies around mobility that go beyond the typical suburban imaginary of technology startups and the ubiquitous computing field. (For a critique of how ubiquitous computing conceives of mobility, check out Dourish, Anderson, and Nafus paper “Cultural Mobilities.”) Immigration is a sort of mobility arguably more important to the American economy than the pub-crawling that fuels foursquare and certainly more demanding of bodies, precisely as it is pushed underground because of its illegality.

It’s also rad to see this sort of work being done in a California public institution.

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One Response
  1. marc says:

    it is certainly interesting to see these quasi extra-legal applications of location aware software popping up. i think it will really be quite something as the competency and fluency in designing tools like this becomes even more pervasive. as, for instance, if predator drones concerned a more ‘make magazine’ type crowd, i think we could have definitely expected some kind of arduino enabled drone tracker based on its video broadcast frequencies by now (