The Null Device

The Transborder Immigrant Tool

The street finds its own uses for things yet again: a hacktivist group calling itself the Electronic Disturbance Theater has hacked a cheap GPS-enabled mobile phone into a device for helping Mexican immigrants across the US border:
We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike 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.
We’re at the end of the alpha stage, in terms of the technology, so the next level, which will be the most difficult, is interfacing with communities south of the border: NGOs, churches, and other communities that deal with people preparing to cross the border. How can we train them to use this? What is the proper methodology? Those are really going to be the most nuanced and difficult elements with, let’s call it, the sociological aspect of the project.
Of course, once the militias capture one of these (and presumably they'll start searching captured immigrants for them), they will know where the water is stashed. I wonder whether the Electronic Disturbance Theater has put in any sort of self-destruct mechanism.

There are 1 comments on "The Transborder Immigrant Tool":

Posted by: Ricardo Dominguez http://bang.calit2.net Mon Nov 16 10:41:44 2009

The Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) does not offer a scan bounce signal for triangulation (you would have to use it as a cell phone for that to occur- a dire emergency contingency that is recommended). A single GPS bounce with a "no airport" setting establishes compass mode. The issues of where water is located, support communities, etc., would only be available for access for a few days - the information would have to be refreshed before it could be initiated and warnings in multiple languages will be issued: http://bang.calit2.net/xborderbl1 It is also important to understand that the tool is also a discursive engine that foregrounds the possibilities for locative media and a disturbance of the social fields that gather around the question of the border and those who cross it. Very best,
b.a.n.g lab/EDT (P.I. Ricardo Dominguez)

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