In early 2017 a group of active members from OpenStreetMap Bangladesh Community (OSMBD) decided to form an unofficial entity BOIL (Bangladesh Open Innovation Lab) to utilize the huge & diverse potential of crowdsourced OpenStreetMap data and take the Open Data movement forward. The decision was made to coordinate the community activities in a more structured way and bring out the best from the members of this community. Immediately, BHOOT (Bangladesh Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Operations Team) was formed as a initiative of BOIL to support HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team) with all their activations supporting all the disasters & emergency humanitarian crisis throughout the globe including Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh BHOOT(vut) stands for Ghost, the entity you cannot see in front of your eyes but surely can feel its presence and works. However, the group vowed to make the impact remaining behind the scene and not really bother focusing to become the poster boys of the community. And, literally they made the impact with a big bang!
Collaborating with Pathao with “Map Your City” project, leading the “South Asian Flood Activation (Bangladesh part)” by HOT, supporting “Rohingya Population Movement Mapping” by MissingMaps… 2017 was a very busy and eventful first year for the BHOOT’s. With adding more than 2 Million buildings, 2000 km roads & 150k street view images from Bangladesh region on the OpenStreetMap, surely they made the community moved & evolved. Eventually the team almost single handedly taken the size of the zipped data size of Bangladesh region from 22 MB to 93 MB in only 06 months! The humongous contribution made 05 members of the team reaching the top 10 position in Missing Maps global contributor’s leaderboard and another 15 placed in top 100 of that leaderboard!
Derived from the OpenStreetMap Bangladesh Community (OSMBD) the motto of the team is to expose & utilize the huge potentials of the diverse community people. And that fuels the team’s constant drive to the community engagement. The team focuses on quality rather than quantity and believes in strong knowledge base. To meet the base requirement and create a strong foundation for the community the team has been facilitating hands on trainings on basic and advance mapping, introducing different data collection tools & platforms along with frequent mapathons for the community. In 2017 the team facilitated more than 14 trainings & Mapathons where 135 newbies and 65 existing community mappers were involved. In support to HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team) & MissinMaps the team contributed to more than 50 different mapping tasks in different part of the globe to put the vulnerable population on the map suffering from different disasters. Among those 27 tasks were completely handled by this team! In Addition, the team launched “Mapillary Bangladesh Community” and combinely added more than 150k street level images in Bangladesh region. Other than the specific projects the team has been supporting the project needs of Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Save The Children in Bangladesh with remote & collaborative mapping using OpenStreetMap. The team is always open to collaborative approaches to ensure a sustainable open data ecosystem.
In April 2017 the team started their collaboration with Pathao Ltd, the fastest growing tech startup to support & improve the navigation system for their ride sharing services. Soon the team became one of the core support for their operations and assigned to develop a standalone map server for the company. Already the team has successfully deployed the dataset they have developed and constantly working on building the richest repository of map data for the region. The team is also working on developing different data collection tools along with a complete, effective navigation & transportation API. It is believed that the outcome of the tremendous work the team is doing will be a complete game changer for the industry!
Since 11 August 2017, heavy monsoon rains caused intense flooding across more than one-third of Bangladesh. As per the analysis by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), the flood was the worst in the last four decades. Incessant heavy rainfall brought by the monsoon triggered flooding in five divisions, 31 districts, 176 Upazilas and 1,173 Unions.Findings indicated that a total of about 6.9 million people (1.54 million households) have been affected by the floods. National authorities confirmed 114 deaths and 197,416 people are temporarily displaced in 703 community shelters. As a result of the extensive floods, 77,272 houses were destroyed, 524,375 were partially damaged. Findings also highlighted that in northern Bangladesh, the following are the six worst-affected districts: Gaibandha, Dinajpur, Kurigram, Jamalpur, Nilphamari, Sirajganj.
In these districts, a total of 330,000 people have been displaced. Access to the most affected areas in the northwest was a challenge as roads are either severely damaged or submerged under flood water. It is estimated that around 9,000 km of roads, 500 bridges and culverts have been damaged. Nearly 100 km of rail lines, have been severely damaged by the floods. Around 714 km of embankments have also been washed away.
To address & meet the increased needs of food security, wash, shelter, health, education, GBV, child protection, and early recovery the aid agencies needed a baseline map for Assessment & operations efficiency. And that made HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team) declaring activation for mapping the affected areas. The team “BHOOT” straightaway deployed to task and took the lead for remote mapping and validation. Utilizing the devices they received from the “NetHope Device Grant”, the team traced down more than 500k buildings along with almost all the roads, waterways in the affected areas.
Violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, which began on 25 August 2017 has driven an estimated 646,000 Rohingya across the border into Cox’s Bazar, joining some 300,000 that had fled in earlier waves of displacement. Pre-existing settlements and camps have expanded with the new influx, while new spontaneous settlements have also formed and grown. The Government and people of Bangladesh have shown extraordinary generosity in keeping the country’s borders open and shared their resources with refugees from Myanmar. Newly arrived refugees are settling in the border areas in the south-east of Bangladesh, in Cox’s Bazar, where an estimated 307,500 refugees were already living. The vast majority are staying in a large and densely populated settlement called Kutupalong. The terrain of the camps is hilly and prone to landslides, flooding, whilst proximity to the coast also makes the area prone to cyclones. Weather conditions, the challenging terrain, and the lack of roads limit access to the refugees, especially those living in more remote areas of the spontaneous settlements.
To support the coordinated operation by UNHCR, MSF, Redcross & other aid agencies in the region “BHOOT” team remotely traced down almost 250k buildings, Roads & other features of the area. Later when MissingMaps officially started the activation the team continued the support remotely to map out the areas in Myanmar too.
The people may have been behind the curtains but the presence were felt with all the activity that was evolving & moving Bangladesh! The mammoth activity helped the team to achieve “NetHope Device Grant” from HOT for the community! The grant has been utilized to support the community activities with resources. The devices has helped the team to spread out the sparks and last quarter of the year the community found more busier. The spark is now widespread to the community & “Youth Mappers” chapters in the country who vowed to take the platform forward.
And already the team has started drafting the plans of activities & Collaborations. More new projects fueled with innovation and research integration has been drafted, Collaboration with global leads like “Moovit” is planned to launch, More community driven initiatives formatted… The BOILers are already heated up for The Next Big Things!
## Happy New Year :)