In the spotlight Children

Mapping it out

FOR A BETTER FUTURE: Using technology.

FOR A BETTER FUTURE: Using technology.   | Photo Credit: supplied

Arun Ganesh is fascinated by maps and routing. He feels that maps empower citizens to act more responsibly by exposing them to the world.

Arun Ganesh, is refered to as the Map Man of India. He is a map analyst, and during the Chennai floods in 2015, he developed an app — Chennai Flood Map. He is the man behind the first Indian public transport map website, the Chennai Bus Route Mapping Project, the geography section of India’s national education plan for youth at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and many more projects.

Arun was a born in Dubai, where his father worked as a mechanical engineer in the oil industry. A few years later, the family moved to Abu Dhabi. Arun spent his childhood flipping through his sister’s atlas, memorising names of cities, mountains and tracing the outlines of countries. His interest in cartography increased over the years. In fact, his favourite games were those that involved maps — Microsoft Flight Simulator, GTA, Age of Empires and Cities XL, to name a few.

Mapping out interests

After completing school, he went on to pursue electronics and communications engineering from Anna University in Chennai. He spent most of his free time in college, honing his skills in cartography and contributing to OpenStreetMap (OSM) projects a collaborative volunteer project to create crowd-sourced maps of the world that can be freely used and shared.

Arun realised the difficulties involved in travelling across the city without adequate information about bus routes and stops. Consequently, he went around the city to record the bus stops for the Chennai Bus Route Mapping Project, his first civic project.

He has also worked on the Indian government’s project to increase digital literacy in the country. He joined Tata Institute of Fundamental research (TIFR) as a consultant, and designed programmes and course modules on computer literacy that taught students how to create maps on OSM.

So, what has he learnt from mapping? “Over the years, if there’s anything that mapping has taught me, it’s the fact that the whole world is interconnected. Maps can show us the big picture of these interconnections, which is what makes them powerful cognitive tools to solve problems that exist today.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 7:55:56 AM |

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