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S3 Episode 1: Slum Detectives

For our Season 3 premiere, we begin a three-part series, New Ideas for Policy in the Developing World. In this episode, high-tech meets high-need. How researchers are using Google Earth to find the undocumented slums of India.

Duke Professor Anirudh Krishna has been studying slums in India for the past several years. When he first began, he got an official map from the government, and he traveled from slum to slum. The ones he saw didn’t seem very slum-like. They were concrete structures with electricity and water.

“And so we realized after having gone to about 15 of these settlements that we got off the official list, that these aren’t the real slums of Bangalore,” Krishna said. His team now focuses on finding and documenting the undocumented pop-up slums that are proliferating in this one Indian city.

Muddy lot, structure covered in blue tarp with wooden front door.
This is one of the homes from the slum the team visited in Bangalore, India. [Credit: Anirudh Krishna]
 Many tarp covered structures in the foreground, larger buildings in the background.
Professor Anirudh Krishna estimates there were 200 homes in the slum the team visited, and around 1,000 people. [Credit: Anirudh Krishna]
This three-part series, New Ideas for Policy in the Developing World, is supported by the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund.