You are completely new to a place and have got an emergency to go to hospital at midnight! Think of the situation, how to know about the nearest hospital, the way to it and the like. If you have a map in hand showing the location and way of the nearest hospital, that can be life savior. OpenStreetMap (OSM) is aimed at creating detailed map for the whole world. The effective use of OpenStreetMap can contribute to the society in multiple dimensions. Maps of developed countries are incredibly detailed.
“OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely at creating & providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them”— www.openstreetmap.org
With the World Cup in mind, CommunityAction (ca-bd.org), a registered student run charity, started mapping Bangladesh. To make the life easy for the foreign guests, CommunityAction first started mapping the capital Dhaka. For this CommunityAction arranged a mapping party dated 21st February at Base, Dhanmondi, Dhaka. At the mapping party volunteers were informed how to map using GPS unit. And then from February 25 to February 26 actioneers mapped numerous points in Dhaka showing everything from restaurants, car parks, streets, hospitals to food courts, gas stations and water sources. Mapping is still going on. Everyday actioneers taking loads of waypoints and covering more areas.
Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, a Lecturer of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and technology (BUET), first felt the necessity of taking proper initiatives of starting OpenStreetMap in Bangladesh. In July 2010, he attended the annual meeting of OpenStreetMap, called State of the Map (SotM), in Spain and presented the “State of Bangladesh”. As a part of the scholarship, Ishtiaque got 5 GPS units from the OpenStreetMap Foundation. The first mapping project of OSM-BD was MapBUET and after that actioneers mapped old Dhaka. And mapping on port city Chittaong is going to start soon.
A map on digital format can be expanded to a great scale. There is no need to carry a large piece of paper and this map can be updated very frequently, even the tiniest change. It can be carried with a laptop or a good handset and an internet connection. With the emergence of new technology and devices like Android and iPhone, digital maps are coming close to common people. Though we have Google map already at hand there are some inconveniences of using it. One cannot use Google Maps to give directions to a place not listed or work with the map data as the data are copyrighted. But OSM is open source, its completely free.
Individuals are allowed to see and manipulate the internal data behind the OpenStreetMap thus updating the map and developing own application. Moreover, OSM has a database of GPS traces being more and more enriched by people all over the world. Anyone who has travelled with a GPS device and recorded a track can donate it to the database. Anyone can search the database using the tags and download the traces, which can be loaded into a GPS device.
It can also be helpful in emergencies – one can quickly find hospitals, medical services, fire services, police stations, and also the shortest and quickest way to get that. Also one can search anything around – shops, marketplaces, restaurants, pharmacies, fuel stations, and many more things.
Click: OpenStreetMap Wiki Page
click: OSM Bangladesh Page
So come forward, start mapping your place!
Let’s Map Bangladesh!
By: Jobaida Akhtar, Lecturer, EEE, CUET