Slum dwellers in India get unique digital addresses through Google

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Despite the services that become available to those with a physical address, it took time to convince residents to sign up. Many had never heard of Google Maps and were suspicious of Joshi’s staff, mistaking them for officials from India’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority. So the nonprofit enlisted local students to go door to door and tell people about the program.

More than a thousand homes, drainage chambers, community toilets, help centers, and drinking water tanks in the slum now have plus codes. And every house in the program has a physical blue address board displaying its plus code for all to see.

“It saves me a lot of time,” says Suresh Devram Dharmavat, who used to close his grocery shop on days he visited wholesale markets. Today, he gets many of the items he needs delivered by using his plus code.  

So far, Joshi’s organization has helped 9,000 families in Pune, Thane, and Kolhapur obtain digital addresses, and it aims to cover 58 more slums. Eventually, she hopes, residents will be able to add their codes to Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID program.