Thim­phu city to have an on­line street map

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Thim­phu Thromde is cur­rently co­or­di­nat­ing sev­eral rounds of sen­si­ti­za­tion and train­ing on up­dat­ing the open Street Map (OSM) base map of Thim­phu. OSM is a col­lab­o­ra­tive and par­tic­i­pa­tory pro­ject to cre­ate freely ac­ces­si­ble and ed­itable maps of the world. As part of the pro­ject funded by the World Bank, train­ers from Kath­mandu Liv­ing Labs have trained a group of stu­dents from Royal Thim­phu Col­lage who are cur­rently study­ing Geo­graphic In­for­ma­tion Sciences and Tech­nol­ogy as part of their BSc pro­gramme in En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment.

The stu­dents have been suc­cess­ful in map­ping sev­eral ar­eas of Thim­phu by col­lect­ing data in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, build­ing num­bers, new build­ings, shop names and tim­ings, bus stops, and ATM ma­chines. The core city was di­vided into ar­eas of man­age­able acreage and stu­dents were de­ployed in pairs to map the. Di­vid­ing the ar­eas helps to dis­trib­ute their ef­forts evenly across the main parts of the city to en­sure ad­e­quate cov­er­age. The stu­dents’ ef­forts were valu­able in con­tribut­ing to Thim­phu Thromde’s on­line city ad­dress sys­tem for the res­i­dents to use. Com­mu­nity mem­bers in of the city of Thim­phu can also use the up­dated OSM for any spa­tial queries like find­ing a par­tic­u­lar shop and nav­i­gat­ing to it. The ad­van­tages of OSM come with avail­abil­ity of off­line apps like “maps. me” com­pat­i­ble with both An­droid and Ap­ple smart phones. OSM can be di­rectly ac­cessed by vis­it­ing ei­ther on desk­top com­puter s or mo­bile de­vices.

Be­cause OMS map of a lo­cal­ity can be up­dated us­ing sim­ple user friendly mo­bile or desk­top tools, which also have the ca­pa­bil­ity to col­lect ge­o­graph­i­cal like foot­paths, bound­aries, etc., and al­low users to take notes and pho­to­graphs at the lo­ca­tion of in­ter­est, it is hoped that wider com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion will fol­low this pi­lot train­ing. Hope­fully this work will not only make use­ful data avail­able to a mul­ti­tude of users, but also con­trib­ute to in­crease aware­ness of in­fra­struc­tures in Thim­phu like shops, of­fices, pub­lic spa­ces and recre­ational places. “my hopes are when stu­dents re­turn home, they will map their neigh­bor­hoods and vil­lages and di­rectly up­load th­ese on the OSM web­site”, ex­plains Ms. Les­lie Backus, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor, who led the team from RTC.

Sonam Tse­wang, GIS of­fi­cer with Thim­phu Thromde , states “the Thromde is very grate­ful to GIS fac­ulty and stu­dents of RTC for their con­tri­bu­tions to­wards map­ping of Thim­phu City on OSM, is look­ing for­ward to work to­gether more hence­forth”. At the mo­ment, cre­at­ing aware­ness amongst the res­i­dents of Thim­phu is im­por­tant to the Thromde so that res­i­dents can make good use of the City Ad­dress Sys­tem. All build­ings are now num­bered and roads have been of­fi­cially named through the joint ef­forts of Thim­phu Thromde and Bhutan Post. Sonam Tse­wang, GIS of­fi­cer with Thim­phu Thromde , noted that be­yond mak­ing mail de­liv­ery more ef­fi­cient, ac­cu­rate map­ping of build­ings or houses and res­i­dents will also be crit­i­cal in times of disas­ter and emer­gency. In­for­ma­tion on types of build­ing and num­bers of oc­cu­pants will guide au­thor­i­ties to pri­or­i­ties or chan­nel­ize re­lief ef­forts like search and res­cue, or food and med­i­cal sup­ply, if any disas­ter like ma­jor earth­quake strikes. Law en­force­ment and fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices will also ben­e­fit from up­dated, ac­cu­rate city maps.

(Con­trib­uted by: Royal Thim­phu Col­lege)

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