UAB Associate Professor Akhlaque Haque, Ph.D., has traveled all over the world. But, Haque's latest adventure will take him back to his homeland of Bangladesh, to Dhaka, one of the most populated cities in the world, where he will put his skills in social science and Geographic Information Systems to the test. Haque will create the first-ever comprehensive digital maps of Dhaka. Currently there are no digital maps of Bangladesh that are available for public use.
Haque will blog about his research and about what it is like to live and work in Bangladesh. The blog also will contain photos taken by Haque of the city and its people. Readers can join him on his quest to create the computer-generated maps using GIS. Teachers, students and others can ask Haque about his research, Bangladesh and GIS.
Haque, a renowned expert in the use of GIS in government, along with graduate students from BRAC University in Bangladesh, will begin their task by taking Global Positioning Systems tracking units - by car and rickshaw - around the city of Dhaka to collect data on the location of roadways, neighborhoods, major hospitals, airports, police stations, major administration buildings and waterways. The data will then be downloaded for analysis using GIS software and satellite imagery.
Bangladesh has lagged the West as well as India and Pakistan in GIS use. Haque's goal is to introduce GIS in Bangladesh as an empowerment tool for community development. His research is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and supported through a grant from the Fulbright Commission.
"The BRAC students will have the opportunity to know their own surroundings and find ways to develop access points and networks within a 10-mile radius of the Dhaka city center," says Haque. "The preliminary results are expected to pinpoint alternative routes or the best routes for entry and exiting the city during times of crisis, such as natural disasters.
"The project will be a prototype for a larger undertaking that can be carried out by future generations of GIS users trained from this project," Haque said.