What the Flock?

Dhaka – What a great image of individuals going about their busy days!

Crowd sourcing platforms are great!! They literally give people the ability to do anything they want! There are so many versatile projects on crowd sourcing websites – its cool after cool after cool which brings us to this latest crowd sourcing project – First Bus Map of Dhaka which is very cool!  The problem being, there is no bus maps in Dhaka so Urban Launchpad aims to delivery a fantastic well designed bus map of Dhaka city! What a novel project, motivated by function and necessity!  You can help fund this project on Kickstarter here.

Urban Launchpad aim to reduce congestion and pollution in the mega cities of the developing world by introducing a map that highlights how easy and convenient it is to travel by bus.

The bus riding experience in Dhaka as described by Urban Launchpad –

“In Dhaka, buses are the lifeline for getting around the relatively compact, 18 million person mega capital of Bangladesh, which despite low car ownership, has been referred to as the slowest city in the world. Riding a bus in Dhaka, however, requires a bit of bravery (as we found out). First, since the informal network is a hodgepodge of services from private operators who manage their fleets independently, it is difficult for both a visitor and a lifelong local to figure out which bus goes where. There are few official bus stops and no signage that matches the buses or the stops.

When you actually get on the buses (which requires a modest jump onto an often moving vehicle), you must squeeze your way in (since most buses are extremely crowded all of the time) and then negotiate fares with the fare collector (even though the fare is supposedly fixed). Alighting also requires a modest jump from a moving vehicle (there is a technique for doing this that local know) whilst also avoiding the chaos of cars, pedestrians, CNGs and rickshaws (the most in the world) on the busy street. While it will take quite a Herculean effort to improve this experience significantly (which some noble people are undertaking), we believe that information, which can be rapidly generated via a tested technique called flocksourcing, can be a powerful catalyst for improving service in general, and in doing so, help avoid the need to buy a car.”

That just sounds amazing and now I really want to experience it! It seems like we are witnessing the birth of a mega city and public transport is just one of the growing pains associated with the growth.

What the Flock? Flocks + Mobiles = Flocksourcing, a new technique for rapid generation of urban data. Thats the Flock!

Urban Launchpad teamed up with Kewkradong (an adventure company) in Dhaka to pilot the technique where they deployed a flock of smartphone-armed volunteers to rapidly collect data on Dhaka’s bus system – this is flocksourcing. In 7 days, the flock tracked 270 buses and surveyed 1,000 people-what flocking brilliant results! The data they collected reveled insights into routes, travel times, crowding levels, demographics and what made the people happy!

Riding on the success of the flocksourcing pilot Urban Launchpad now want to scale up the project to cover the entire Dhaka bus network so that they can transform the data into something beneficial for the bus users of Dhaka.  What a great project and what a great way to tackle a statistical and logistical problem!

The first of its kind, the Dhaka bus map.  Looking at this map and its design makes me think of the London Underground (Transport for London), are we witnessing the beginnings of a landmark transports system with fantastic branding?


The research collected by Urban Launchpad suggests that people who live in Dhaka do have mobile phones but not smart phones, no iphones, no HTC’s, no Samsung Galaxy’s.  So the information will be printed on an informative attractive map for the commuters of Dhaka to carry around which seems like the most useful approach for getting the information to the commuters quickly.  Larger maps will also be printed for display at public congregation areas such as chai stands.  Check out the Kickstarter project here for more information and pictures!





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