Posts Tagged ‘lahore’

Prayers for Moscow

The Associate Press reports yet another act of senseless violence–disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people–this time tragedy has struck Moscow.  Visit here for the details.

What I typed instantly into the Twitter box when I read the news is perhaps the most genuine comment that can be made on the behalf of the citizens of Lahore and indeed, Pakistan.

Marsonearth on Twitter:

Prayers for #Moscow from #Lahore – there are no words that will lessen your grief. http://bit.ly/9Y7Doe

Wind? Check. Rain?

I took a stroll a few minutes ago  to determine what the weather is like on the last Friday of January twenty ten. And the verdict? Fantastic! We finally have a breeze in Lahore, and not some weak  ‘ruffle-some-papers’ breeze,  a true-blue winter breeze that demands sweaters and makes trees physically sway side-to-side.

Now, a humble request to the Weather Department in the sky; what us Lahoris would really appreciate is some rain showers. To be specific, as I am aware there were some parts that received some drizzle action last night–we would like some proper downpour.  You know, like Islamabad got some and everyone knows Lahore is way cooler–so spread the love!  *grin*

The Fog Follow-up (for the lack of a better title)

Watch your step!

Watch your step!

Resistance is Futile--You are completely surrounded!

Resistance is Futile--You are completely surrounded!

Well dear readers, these are some of the clearer photos I was able to capture for you earlier this morning.  I hope they get the point across–as they say–‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.   :)

 

(the fine print: All photos taken by myself  with the aid of my trusty cellphone camera)

Fog in the big city…

Lahore; a foggy night

Lahore; a foggy night

Wanted:Clarity!

Rather dramatic blog post title, no? Actually, if you have been traveling on Lahore’s roads this morning–I’m sure you can relate–as the city has literally been consumed by heavy layer fog. I’m talking cinematic proportions!

To our readers who are about to head out–please be safe, drive slowly, use your fog lights and most importantly, your common sense.

For those lounging at home, in a sea of woolly shawls and sipping on Kashmiri chai (tea)-enjoy the weather!

By the way dear readers– Doesn’t it seem like a scene out of a paperback mystery novel? Hah! I simply can not help being intrigued by the fog. :)

Google Map Maker for Pakistan: Support it or Oppose it?

Google Map Maker Community and FAST-NU’s ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) hosted an event on mapping and scope of mapping in Pakistan. The event named Lahore Mapping Party was first of its kind in Pakistan and was held in FAST NU’s main auditorium last week on Saturday.

Lahore Mapping Party - Banner

Lahore Mapping Party - Banner

As opposed to what I had expected, the attendees were only a few in numbers and were mainly comprised of students, professors, IT professionals, and people having a background in geography/architecture studies.

Reason of the event cum workshop was to actually aware & train people about Google Map Maker, host a discussion on crowd-sourced mapping and how local/international companies/organizations are using it and what is its scope in Pakistan.

Another reason was to acknowledge the efforts of two Pakistani youngsters who are recognized as the top mappers in the world. Faraz Ahmad with more than 48,000 edits holds the 1st place whereas; Jabran Rafique with more than 44,000 edits is also in the list of top mappers in the world. And also, to celebrate that Lahore is the fastest mapped city in a total of 120 countries where Google Map Maker service is available, and Islamabad is the cleanest mapped city (there’s not even a single error in mapping).

The whole idea is to promote this activity and involve others as well to be a part of Google Map Maker community in Pakistan.

Well when Google launched this Map Maker tool for Pakistan, I also did some mapping just to get my hands on what Google Map Maker is and does it really work or not. I made maps and it was fun playing with the tool quiet a year ago but I stopped doing it because I had some serious security and privacy reservations. This concern was one of the main reasons why I was so eager to attend this event.

Badar Khushnood, the country representative for Google, presented an overview explaining what Google Map Maker tool can do and how companies are leveraging it to promote their business and how can others use it in different other ways to promote different services or even play with APIs to make their own layers over the Google Maps platform.

Badar’s presentation was followed by Faraz Ahmed’s presentation in which he gave the live demo of map maker with other team members and shared his experience that how and why he started mapping on Google Map Maker. Then the floor was opened for questions and the discussion heated up over the security risks involved in mapping local areas.

Four main topics which were in discussion were security, ethics, profitability and ownership. Everyone had something to say and for me it turned out to be a healthy brainstorming session.

Security Risks

Security remained the main topic of discussion. Due to the growing security risks and threats in Pakistan it is natural for Pakistanis to make sure that they are not risking their own security. Some of the attendees were of the view that it will actually facilitate the extremists to make more sophisticated terrorist attacks against locals or law enforcement forces. The threats are not only from within the country but from over the borders as well. So the security issues must be addressed to clear the situation.

Others were quite optimistic about this tool. The map maker supporters responded that this tool will in fact help the government to take better security measures and to plan strategies to curb terrorism in the country (Think about having a security plan for Lahore keeping an eye on its entrance and exit points).

As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that most of the officials are really optimized to use such tools in a way that it helps in curbing terrorism and crime. But in any case if it is going to help those extremists, Google Map Maker is not a good omen for Pakistan.

Ethics

Ethics in mapping is related to the security issues. It includes what to map and what not to map. Think of places like army bases in Pakistan, nuclear sites, borders, and other areas which may fall under national security.

First of all, I believe if it has to be mapped, then it must be everything; whether in Pakistan or in any country of the world. There should be no discrimination over security concerns at international level. Like if Pakistan army bases are to be mapped then why not American and Indian army bases as well.

It is nearly impossible to moderate each and everything being mapped. So, if there has to be a policy, the questions arise are who is responsible or have the authority to decide what is ethical and what is unethical? How many stake holders are there and how can all of them come to a consensus over a uniform policy for mapping Pakistan?

Usually governments regulate the policies regarding national issues and in case of Pakistan if government didn’t pay any attention timely, it would have been too late to make a policy. By government’s involvement I do not mean that there should be restrictions to mapping at all but government can work in conjunction with Google and supervise the process so that it remains beneficial and secure for everyone.

Profitability & Ownership

The point was raised by Dr. Anis Siddiqui, Chairman Department of Architecture, University of the Punjab, that who has the ultimate ownership of the data being produced voluntarily by the people. He was of the view that Google should have some revenue model for the people for doing the mapping because it needs resources and time which are valuable and this value must be converted in some sort of reward for them.

I believe if we ignore the security and ethics part, the value for the effort being put by these freelancers is much more than the effort itself. Imagine where you can use this tool to help you or your business. Think your PTCL’s limited 1217 directory converted and mapped on your screen with more comprehensive and updated information (Local Business Listings – where you find business around you), try finding your house on Naksha.pk, see whether Wateen’s coverage is provided in your area, imagine getting traffic updates in real time, find a gas station near you, measure distance between your house and the nearest police station, get driving details to your destination and a hell lot of other things…

Google Maps: Lahore Before & After

Google Maps Lahore: Before & After

I would like to refer to the efforts put in by Khurram, Asst. Professor FAST-NU and Sarah Ahmad, lecturer Beaconhouse National University for presenting the possible ideas where Google Maps can be used. Updated local info, a new life to businesses, cheap & quick, SMS based white pages, value of getting info quickly, preservation data, geo coding & reverse urban planning, planning and Policy making help in generating demographics, housing variables, income statistics, economic zones and activity etc… were some of the directions presented by Khurram and Sarah.

I believe, if it actually matures enough to a point that we can use it for any product, it will prove a milestone in business and even it may change the way we do business today. I bet corporations have better plans and ideas to develop leverage Google Map Maker API.

Now about ownership, off course Google owns the data and they have the power to turn it off any time they want (you agree to terms & conditions before using their tool… try reading it). But Google provides an opportunity to download the maps to your local machine. In case if you want to volunteer but not for Google, there are a lot of other options to go for where you can help some non for profit foundation in mapping the whole world.

A Case Study

As I said earlier, I had serious privacy issues regarding Google Map Maker and that’s why I stopped using it. But I realized a much better use of this tool when I got the following message from my teacher. Please refer to the image below. It’s about three weeks ago and its self explanatory.

How can Google Map Maker work

Google Maps helped my teacher find an examination center I mapped.

The areas I mapped some months ago helped my teacher finding an examination center.  And this conversation happened about two weeks before Lahore Mapping Party.

Conclusion

In the end, I would like to finish saying that its all up to how any thing is used. It can equally be used for something constructive and for something destructive. So instead of just opposing it, I think we can volunteer to use this tool in a way that best suits our interests; both in terms of security and in terms of business.

Google Map Maker for Pakistan: will you SUPPORT it or OPPOSE it?

Google Maps & Lahore: Mapping ‘Party’

Are you map literate?  Do you reside in Lahore? 

Then you might want to check out  the Google Mapping ‘party’ taking place at FAST-NU this Saturday, 2nd  January, 2010. 

Sneak peak at what its all about— Badshahi Mosque and neighborhood.

Some information from the organizers:

Greetings!

FAST-NU and the Google Map Maker Community in Pakistan officially invite you to a half-day of discussion, interaction and mapping fun! Google Map Maker is an open editing tool for Google Maps, and has allowed crowd-sourced mapping of Pakistan on an unprecedented scale, as highlighted by Google.
In order to take stock of what has been accomplished so far, and more importantly, what opportunities lie ahead, FAST-NU’s ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Chapter welcomes Google to campus to host a workshop and discussion on crowd-sourced mapping of our cities. Take a look at the links below to see Lahore’s map on Google Maps today, to see how Badshahi Mosque’s neighborhood has been mapped, for example.
Now, help shape the opportunities which lie ahead for Pakistan’s urban development using maps, the internet and the power of collective public thinking.
Join us on the 2nd of January, 2010 from 12:30pm to 5:00pm, at FAST-NU (see it on the map)
….(click here to read the rest on the event page on Facebook)

For further information and to register–click here.

Important: You must pre-register at http://local.com.pk/mappingparty  to join in all the fun on Saturday!

If you attend–do come back to share your experience here on Lahore Metblog. :)

Moon Market shaken by two bomb blasts

Two bomb blasts have targeted people at the congested Moon Market in Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Town area this evening. So far more than 30 people including women and children have lost their lives with 100+ injured. A lot of shops and other buildings caught fire when the two explosions occurred in car parks of two banks with an interval of 30 seconds.

Moon Market is usually a very busy place, especially, in the evenings; the time when this unfortunate incident took place. The market is popular for ladies clothes, jewelery and was being frequented by thousands of women, children and families during the current wedding season. Police officials as well as the Lahore Commissioner had declared these as suicide attacks while forensic experts are busy carrying out further investigation. Officials now have claimed that remote controlled bombs, instead of suicide bombers, were used to create havoc.

According to witnesses and media reports, citizens have flocked to the nearby Sheikh Zayed and Jinnah Hospitals to donate blood and inquire about their loved ones.

Today was another sad day when the common man suffered consequences of a war that is not going anywhere. Our leadership seems to have no clue about how to take everyone into confidence when their own ministers travel in bomb proof vehicles while citizens become victims of terrorism right on the streets of our cities.

I remember how the PML (N) politicians including the Sharifs condemned and blamed Salman Taseer for poor security when the Sri Lankan team was attacked. Now, they are in power themselves, and have no one else to blame things on. Should we expect mass resignations at least now? Or do they have a better explanation?

BBC News Coverage: BBC News

Dawn: Dawn News

Imanae Malik – victim of criminal negligence of doctors

Imanae Malik billboard at Adil Hospital Lahore

Imanae Malik billboard at Adil Hospital Lahore

Source: Imanae Malik billboard

You can read Imanae’s story at this website: Imanae’s Story

Lahore strikes back at the terrorists!

Elite Police Celebrating Win - Photo suggestion by Shakeel

Elite Police Celebrating Win - Source: BBC News - Suggested by Shakeel Ahmad

In Lahore this morning, three different police facilities were attacked by well-trained and well-equipped terrorists. The incidents at FIA building, Manawan Police Academy and Bedian Elite Force Training Facility left at least 30 people dead including all the attackers, policemen and some civilians. Two of the targets, the FIA building and Manawan Police Training Academy have been hit by terrorists earlier as well. Although the new wave of attacks was serious, however, the response of security agencies and the police has shown an upgraded level of strike-back action.

Police force moving for action against attackers in Lahore - Source: BBC News

Police force moving for action against attackers in Lahore - Source: BBC News

Yes, we are living in insecure times and when a full-fledged war is being raged against these mug-heads, they are sure to strike back. What makes all Pakistanis proud is the sacrifice of life that our soldiers and policemen are making to fight terrorism and to protect common citizens like you and me.

We should pray for these brave sons of the soil and help them by providing any information that we are able to gather against terrorists or suspicious activities around our cities and neighborhoods.

To all the policemen who lost their life today in Lahore and Kohat; every Lahori and Pakistani salutes you!

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