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Dhaka's digital map to mobilise urban governance
Shakhawat Hossaain

          Finally Dhaka is going to enter into the modern map era when a digital map of the capital will be available through aerial photography from the early next year, thanks to the Survey of Bangladesh (SOB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency. Together they had taken the project worth Tk 230 million two years back to produce 1:5000 scale topographic map and basic data of the Dhaka metropolitan area.
Until this, the country has been using old and manually designed maps. But the increase in the number of government, semi-government and autonomous organisations and the nature of work and requirement no longer allows cosmopolitan and densely populated city like Dhaka to use those maps, experts said.
Various utility services, law enforcing agencies and development activities of the government need more and more detail, comprehensive, informative, larger scale and more flexible map system for accurate information, they added.
Experts said introduction of digital maps will mobilise the government administrative purposes and urban governance, development purposes and land use change monitoring, urban environment management and land management purposes.
Under the administrative areas, it will help Dhaka City Corporation for its tax assessment and collection, garbage and waste collection and disposal system maintenance, controlling unauthorized encroachment greatly.
The police department will also be benefited for its crime record maintenance and location, police movement, activity monitoring and traffic control by the use of this modern map system. It will also help different intelligence departments to locate suspicious occurrences and locate areas.
Fire Brigade and Civil Defense from now on can easily identify place of occurrence, demarcating hazard prone areas, identify road capability and their vehicles movement management
Electric supply authority, postal service, communication providing agencies, tour guide, mobile phone operators, home-service operators will largely benefited by the outcome of the project in which JICA is providing bulk of the fund with Tk 215 million.
In the areas of development, public and private land developers will use the maps with great effect to survey and land use control, and housing and settlement programme. Department of environment will use the maps for the management of its environmental degradation and protection measure and NGOs working on urban health, sanitation, disease control, social development and poverty alleviation.
Experts are in doubt whether the entire resources of the project are going to be used by the SOB on commercial purposes or a free service. As the SOB is under the jurisdiction of Defense Ministry, it is likely that a limited amount of data may be available for open access, some may be purchased under certain criteria and some may be disseminated under strict regulations. Experts believe that Bangladesh is going to follow the policy adopted by its South Asian neigbourins India and Pakistan in releasing and selling of large scale maps in restricted ways.


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