Bangladesh's Capital City Dhaka Gets Its First Bus Map

Commuters who take the bus Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka, home to 15 million people and very heavy traffic, can for the first time look at a map to plan their route.

Social-venture group Urban Launchpad, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Bangladeshi advocacy organization Kewkradong have released an alpha version of a bus map of Dhaka available on paper and online. The first 5,000 alpha paper versions of the map were handed to the city locals on 5 June, 2013.

To map the city, the project, which was launched in January 2012, deployed a flock of smartphone-armed volunteers to rapidly collect data on Dhaka’s bus system. They tracked buses on different routes and collected people’s opinions. But don't call it crowdsourcing — the team has coined the term flocksourcing (flocks + mobiles) to describe the rapid collection of urban data.

Huge traffic of Dhaka city. Photo Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix

Huge traffic of Dhaka city. Photo Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix

The group used crowd-funding website Kickstarter to fund the alpha version, which has a current accuracy of up to 75 percent. The team aims for the next version of the map to have 95 percent accuracy.

The map's introduction earned much fanfare on Twitter. Filmmaker Mizanur Rahman (@MadLungiFilmz) wrote:

@MadLungiFilmz: This is godsend for a public transport freak like me! :D Great initiative by the folks at first bus map of Dhaka. 

Jacqueline M Klopp (@jmklopp1), a self-declared “urbanista”, praised the map:

@jmklopp1: Very cool-First Bus Map of Dhaka. via @kickstarter

A bus rider check the bus map. Photo: Nazim Uddin Khan Price. Images courtesy by Urban Launchpad

A bus rider checking the bus map. Photo by Nazim Uddin Khan Prince/Urban Launchpad. Used with permission

Writer and blogger Mamun M Aziz writes [bn] in Somewherein:

ঢাকায় বাস সার্ভিসের অব্যবস্থাপনার শেষ নাই, এর উপর বাসস্টপের সুনির্দিষ্ট চিহ্ণিতকরণও সেভাবে করা নেই। ঢাকা শহরের পরিবহণ ব্যবস্থার অনেক সমিতি বা সংগঠন থাকলেও বাস রুট নেটওয়ার্ক ব্যবস্থা বেশ স্বাধীনও বটে। এইসব সমস্যা প্রথম বাস ম্যাপটি করতে গিয়ে সেচ্ছাসেবকদের নানান জটিলতায় পর্যবসিত হতে বাধ্য করেছে । তথাপি একটি সফল মানচিত্র তারা ঠিকই দাঁড় করাতে পেরেছে। মানচিত্রটির এক পাতায় রুট সমূহ চিত্রিত হয়েছে এবং অন্য পাতায় বাস এর নম্বর, কোম্পানী নাম এবং ছাড়ায় ও গন্তব্য স্থানের নাম আলাদা ভাবে চিহ্নিত করা হয়েছে।

There is abundance of mismanagement in Dhaka bus service. On top of it the Busstops are not clearly marked on map. There are many associations of private transport owners and they have a pretty flexible route network. All these had created a lot of problems for the volunteers to create the Bus map. But they managed to put together one. In one side of the map the route networks are printed and on the other side the bus company, number of buses and the points of departure and arrivals are listed separately.

As the project's crowdfunding campaign neared its end in January 2013, people on Twitter advertised their donations to the fund. Harry van der Velde (@harryzicht) called the map a product of “crowdpower” after he donated to the project's Kickstarter:

@harryzicht: Crowdpower! Visual, agile and cooperative. I just backed First Bus Map of Dhaka on @Kickstarter 

Entrepreneur Nash Islam (@nashislam) wrote about the potential impact of the map:

@nashislam: I just backed First Bus Map of Dhaka- a project that can have major impact on the city. See for yourself

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