Google Mapping Party at FAST-NUCES Lahore today

January 2, 2010 at 7:47 am 5 comments

FAST-NU and the Google Map Maker Community in Pakistan are holding a half-day of discussion, interaction and mapping fun at what has been termed as the Google Mapping Part at FAST-NUCES in Lahore from 12:30 pm to 5 pm today. I was supposed to be there but loads of things conspired to keep me from Lahore today. But hey guys I will be there in spirit. :)

Google Map Maker [ http://mapmaker.google.com/ ] is an open editing tool for Google Maps that has resulted in the mapping of streets, businesses, restaurants, hospitals, clinics and other venues in Pakistan. It is mainly community driven and people who know their districts and locales well, have started “mapping” them so that anyone wanting to get from “anywhere to anywhere”, in a particular city, town or district can do so with the help of these digital maps. This has become even more useful as the number of mobile phone subscribers heads towards the 100 million mark in Pakistan.

According to Badar Khushnood, the Pakistan Consultant for Google Inc, the Google Mapping Party is being held to take stock of what has been accomplished so far, and to highlight the opportunities that lie ahead.

The announcement for the event, which has been organized by the FAST Lahore ACM chapter, in collaboration with Google (P@SHA is supporting the event of course), is indeed tempting. This is what it states:
* Interact with the Google Map Maker Community of Pakistan
* Take part in a mapping workshop with Google Map Maker led by top mappers
* Brainstorm with technologists, bloggers and urban activists on technology and its role in urban development.
* Mingle with like-minded people over tea, and share your ideas.

They also share an example and ask you to look at http://bit.ly/mapmaker-lahore to see Lahore’s map on Google Maps and to see how Badshahi Mosque’s neighborhood has been mapped http://bit.ly/badshahi-mosque-mapmaker

Lots of youngsters have registered for the event. Amongst them will be two young Pakistanis from the UK – Faraz Ahmad who is a 26 year old programmer living in Glasgow and Jabran Rafique who is an IT Administrator. These young men live 400 miles apart and have never met but, between them, have been responsible for over 70,000 map edits on Google Map Maker since they started using it in 2008 soon after the application was launched.

According to a New York times article published in mid November, Faraz is the top contributor to Google Map Maker having logged more than 41,000 changes. They have also been featured in a post on the Google blog.

Why did they start on this journey? Simple. Like many other people in the UK, they use Google Maps extensively to get around and they felt that the lack of definitive maps in Pakistan, deprived Pakistanis  from availing of the convenience of digital maps. So they formed a virtual team online and started on a mission to map Pakistan. Wow! That is the spirit guys.

They started with their own home towns and places they know well personally – adding roads, streets, schools, hospitals, grounds, coffee shops, restaurants, government offices, banks, tourist sites, etc – and the maps started taking shape. Whenever they met people from other districts, towns or cities, they would sit them down, open up Google Map Maker and get them to identify their locales in detail, adding these edits and thus mapping more areas.

Faraz and Jibran have also been assisting other young people in Pakistan to learn how to use Map Maker and add and edit maps. They will share their experience at the Google Mapping Party in Lahore and I really wish I could have met them and spoken to them in person. If you are in Lahore and can be there, do not miss this opportunity.

However, please note that you MUST REGISTER at http://bit.ly/google-mapping-party to be allowed onto the FAST campus.

Have fun mappers! We will follow you online. Badar has promised that he will try and livestream the event.

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Thanks for the memories. Here’s to 2010! Hong Kong always re-energizes me

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