FEATURE STORY

Brazil’s digital TV system delivers health, education and jobs at the touch of a remote control

May 24, 2013

After the platform is fully operational in Brazil, EBC seeks to export it to other Latin American countries, as well as to Africa.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • EBC, Brazil’s broadcasting service, is creating an interactive television system to deliver public services nationwide.
  • Trials were conducted in three low-income neighborhoods of Joao Pessoa, in northeastern Brazil.
  • Impacts of this pilot project were assessed by World Bank researchers. The results will be available in August.

The way people watch TV has definitely changed in three poor neighborhoods of Joao Pessoa, the capital city of Paraíba in Northeastern Brazil. And it’s not because a new soap opera or any other TV show went live. 

Last December, a new digital television service was made available for 100 local families, all of them benefiting from Brasil sem Miséria plan. The interactive system gives them access to a range of public services – information on health care, financial literacy, social programs, jobs and training opportunities – at the touch of a remote control. 

“Now I can apply for jobs and search for training offers without even leaving my bedroom,” says hairdresser Edineide Santos. “Back in the days people here had to take at least one bus to reach the National Employment System (Sine, its acronym in Portuguese) office.”

Online facilities

These new job opportunities for Edineide are provided by EBC, Brazil’s public broadcasting service. All content is delivered via a satellite that communicates with local antennae, which then transmit the digital signals to set top boxes distributed among the families.

In addition to the boxes, they received a remote control and training. “The technology enables them to engage with the content as if they were online, even if there’s no broadband connectivity in the area,” says Andre Barbosa, Technical Development manager at EBC. 

“Besides, the system is easy to use, which is important for this part of the population that relies on TV as their main information source. The remote control is just like any other, with red, yellow, blue and green buttons,” he adds. Ninety-seven percent of Brazilian households have at least one TV set.

Open Quotes

Now I can apply for jobs and search for training offers without even leaving my bedroom. Close Quotes

Edineide Santos
Haidresser

Impact figures

The jobs and training channel not only caught Edineide Santos’ attention, but was also considered a favorite by most users. This is something EBC found out thanks to a survey conducted by World Bank researchers to assess the impacts of this technology on local families.

Other figures and analysis will be made available by August. These data will help EBC implement a national digital platform that will broadcast interactive content from all of the country’s public TV channels.

From the platform, that can cost Brazil’s government as little as BRL10 (US$4.90) per family a year, people will be able to accomplish several everyday tasks: checking bank account balances, calculating the severance pay they’re entitled to, scheduling a hospital appointment, among others. “Everything can be done from home and free of charge,” Barbosa comments. 

Technology for export

While the implementation plan is not yet structured, the platform name is already well-defined: Brasil 4D. But the acronym has nothing to do with an evolution of 3D technology, as one may think. Actually it stands for Democracy, Diversity, Development, and Digital, the four guiding principles of this system.

After the platform is fully operational in Brazil, EBC seeks to export it to other Latin American countries, as well as to Africa.