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Mobile Metrix Counts The Uncounted

No one really knows how many people live in shanty towns in countries around the globe. They don’t show up on censuses, and their lives are lived under all official radar.   But a newproject from Stanford University, called Mobile Metrix, aims to count the inhabitants and detail their lives.  The idea is that the gathered data will be given to governments and aid groups so they can focus their projects in the areas.   "We count the uncounted," said Melanie Edwards,head of the project. "It’s critical because how do you serve that population if you do not know who they are?"   The project will use local teens, known as MobileAgents, who will betrained to go from house to house and ask people about their lives and families from a 100-question survey which will be loaded and recorded on handheld computers. The teens will be paid more thanthey’d earn as couriers for drug dealers.   So far a trial project has run in Brazil, but others are planned in the near future for Kenya and India.