RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — An Israeli polling startup made headlines in Brazil for its innovative count of demonstrators who flooded the streets in Sao Paulo protesting the alleged corruption of the country’s president.
Brazilian demonstrators on Sunday staged some of the largest-ever protests calling for President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and supporting police investigations of the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history.
Nearly 1.5 million people attended the rally in Brazil’s largest city, according to the new SmartLok technology of the StoreSmarts Israeli startup company. The system released frequency signals from various computer terminals that recognized cell phones with activated Wi-Fi while ignoring laptops and routers and, in parallel, some 15,000 human operators surveyed an average number of activated cell phone holders among the demonstrators.
Millions rallied across Latin America’s largest nation on March 13. Figures have strongly differed among the counts by organizers, traditional local polling firms and the military police. In Sao Paulo, organizers have calculated some 2.5 million demonstrators whereas traditional polling agency Datafolha estimated 400,000 people.
The numbers provided by the Israeli firm were impressively similar to that given by the military police, which is considered one of the most reasonable counts. Whatever the methodology, all counts have confirmed the figures of the Sao Paulo demonstration were bigger than that of a historical pro-democracy rally in April 1984 near the end of the country’s 20-year military dictatorship.
Another 1 million people packed the rally at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city.
Brazil is home to some 120,000 Jews.