Designing Dhaka’s Bus Infostructure

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For 2 years, we have been working in Dhaka to develop a low-cost strategy for collecting data about the bus system. We arm teams of volunteers with a smartphone app, which tracks bus rides and enables surveying of other riders (we affectionately call this method flocksourcing). While this information could be useful to the city and bus companies, who have no organized system for understanding the informal network, our real goal is to provide information directly to local citizens. To date, we have launched an alpha version of a paper bus map, and now plan to expand this project to design a full suite of information products about the buses.
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Stephen Kennedy
urbanlaunchpad.org
stephenjameskennedy@gmail.com
678 471 6784

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September 4, 2013
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Parts of a bus infostructure: 1. Start with a paper map, distributed to citizens!
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2. Add bus decals keyed to the map routes
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3. Add stop signage keyed to the routes and bus decals
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4. Add large format bus maps at key transit hubs
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5. Add displays with real-time feeds of bus locations / arrival times
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How do citizens received and interpret real-time bus information in the midst of Dhaka’s chaotic street scene? While smartphone penetration is increasing, it’s nowhere near the rates we see in developed countries. We need to provide information in formats available on the ground for both on- and off-line consumption.

 
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Design a comprehensive transit info system that could include bus stop signage, directional signage, real-time data displays, large format route maps, and even decals for the buses. Our goal is to transform the bus data we’ve collected into something useful to riders every day, building off our recently launched paper map.