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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The interaction between transportation systems, Internet connectivity, and location-aware mobile applications is increasingly relevant to urban mobility. Location-based apps not only assist individuals in more efficient movement through urban spaces but also impact the way individuals experience the city. More recently, location-based taxi-hailing apps are also a part of ongoing transformations in urban mobility. These apps are increasingly popular in the United States, and this trend is spreading to countries outside the Global North. While taxi-hailing apps have been studied in the context of infrastructure and planning, law, and regulations, little scholarship exists on the daily uses of these apps and how they are embedded within a context of ongoing surveillance, politics of mobility, and digital literacy. This chapter examines the impact of location-based ride-hailing applications on daily urban mobility in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the largest cities in the Global South. Through a qualitative study including taxi drivers and passengers who use location-based taxi-hailing apps, we investigate how a group of passengers and drivers in Rio de Janeiro integrates ride-hailing apps into their daily routines and how these apps influence mobility within the city. The findings suggest that while location-based services have normally been seen as a threat to privacy, in this group’s case they are a source of security. Furthermore, while taxi-hailing apps were overwhelmingly perceived by the participants as adding convenience to their daily lives, they are still embedded into a politics of mobility, invisibility, surveillance, data collection, and control that is often invisible to passengers and drivers alike.

Keywords: Rio de Janeiro, taxi-hailing app, urban mobility, traffic app, location awareness, Brazil, security, privacy, surveillance

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