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Charting a new course for Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 27, 2007: Today many Americans enjoy the ease and convenience of searching online for street maps for directions. But in Bangladesh, online digital maps of major streets and roadways don’t exist. University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Associate Professor Akhlaque Haque, Ph.D., has begun a four-month journey back to his native country to create the first comprehensive digital maps of Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka.

While in Bangladesh, Haque is writing a blog about his research project and about the country, its culture and its people. The public can follow Dr. Haque’s adventure at . The site includes the blog as well as maps, photos and a podcast. Videos will soon be included.

Haque teaches public administration in the UAB Department of Government. He is an expert on GIS technology and government policy. He is travelling to Bangladesh as a Fulbright Scholar. He’s been teaching graduate students at BRAC University in Dhaka to use GIS technology. In October, he and the students, using Global Positioning System units, will travel, by car and rickshaw, around Dhaka collecting location-specific data on major roadways, railway stations, hospitals and other public service facilities.

The team will then import the data into GIS software to create the digital map of the city. For one project, the team will determine alternative routes for entering and exiting the city during times of crises, including natural disasters such as the recent floods.

The maps will be made available online and presented to local government officials and at seminars. Haque says he wants to create a generation of GIS users in Bangladesh. He hopes that GIS technology will eventually be made accessible to the general public in Bangladesh, empowering communities to participate in decisions about housing, zoning, health and environmental equity and giving residents a greater sense of place.