Mobile phone operator Grameenphone, in partnership with a2i (Access to Information), has launched an initiative to update the digital map of Bangladesh – through open source inputs – to facilitate the work of emergency services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an online press briefing on Wednesday, State Minister for the ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak launched the Bangladesh Challenge campaign in order to update emergency facility locations across the country on Google Maps and OpenStreetMap.
Anir Chowdhury, a2i Policy Advisor, revealed that, so far, 20 lakh calls have come through different emergency lines – for help regarding the Covid-19 outbreak.
"While responding to those calls, we found that we can locate the IVR [interactive voice response] callers inside Dhaka, but not outside of the capital as there is no detailed map. This created a problem as we were unable to provide an emergency response accurately," he said.
Grameenphone Chief Executive Officer Yasir Azman said the company initiated the move as during the current pandemic situation it emerged as a great necessity.
"We, as a company, always try to contribute – in any possible way – to tackle a national crisis and this time is no different. I believe, together we will be able to overcome the situation," he said.
Arif Nezami, CEO of the Preneur Lab, who is also leading the project, said the mapping will be open sourced and the campaign will scrutinise its accuracy.
"For example, if the map location is being updated for a tea stall or a restaurant, then it will be updated automatically. However, if a location is for something critical, such as a hospital or a government office, then our team will review it before it is updated," he explained.