First Bus Map of Dhaka

Bringing the first map of Dhaka’s bus network to life for its millions of daily riders.

Dhaka, Bangladesh, is home to millions, but the megacity doesn’t have a bus map. This project enlists local volunteers to help chart the city’s complex transit system and makes the map freely available to the public.

A collaboration between MIT social-venture group Urban Launchpad and Bangladeshi advocacy organization Kewkradong hopes to bring transparency to public transit in Dhaka. The goal is to produce a comprehensive bus intelligence system, the heart of which is a user-friendly route map for citizens and visitors alike.

See our story on TEDxDhaka

To better understand the city’s complex bus network, we developed a data collection strategy that we call Flocksourcing.

The idea is pretty simple – instead of collecting data with pen and paper, send out “flocks” of smartphone-equipped volunteers onto the city’s bus routes to record stops, arrival times, traffic patterns, and crowding levels.

Smartphones are equipped with at least 15 sensors including GPS and other location-sensing technologies. This allows us to more easily, and sometimes more precisely, capture the experience of riding a bus. The flock is really important because they are the most vital sensor, the one that can survey the other riders and understand not how a bus performs on the road but also for the people in which it serves.

In 2013, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the maps. Within 6 days we were fully funded, ultimately by 500 supporters hailing from 235 cities in 32 countries.

Check out the Kickstarter Campaign

First Bus Map of Dhaka on Kickstarter

Later that summer, we were able to do an initial print run of 5,000 paper maps, which we distributed at various sites throughout the city.