Pakistan about to embrace location-based services

VIAUsman Hanif
SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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KARACHI:  Due to an ineffective local online map, the ride-hailing drivers take a lot of time to reach their customers, which costs time and money to many other businesses as well.

Pakistan is among the countries that are about to embrace Location-Based Services (LBS) and Real Time Location Systems (RTLS).

By 2021, LBS and RTLS are projected to grow to $77.84 billion from $15.04 billion in 2016, according to a study on the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and the rest of the world (RoW), published by MarketsandMarkets.


“Seventy per cent of the growth will come from the Asia-Pacific, where Pakistan is located, as other places are developed and so are they matured. Therefore, everybody is focusing on this area,” said Adnan Shahid, CEO of TPL Maps, which is the first licensed mapping and navigation company in Pakistan with an investment of $10 million.

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Location-Based Services, or mapping and navigation, is a technology for the future, which assists industries including e-commerce, navigation, delivery service, courier service, logistics and civic planning. It will help the country reach its goal of Digital Pakistan.

Shahid said “e-commerce is going to boom in Pakistan, self-driving cars are going to be on roads, there will be robots and drones, but all that is possible when you have a detailed and accurate map.”

Media also uses drones but only in some areas as it does not have an aerial map. Flying a drone to deliver food in an area is only possible when there is an aerial map like the one for aviation. It needs to be guided on which aerial corridor to take or what areas to avoid.

Similarly, if a self-driving car wants to move, it needs to know which road has what speed limit, where is the speed breaker and if there are any potholes while taking a turn.

Car producing companies can offer maintenance services while the vehicle is parked near a person’s office. The owner will not have to wait for an off day to get the car fixed.

“All these services will need real-time processing,” said the CEO. “If you are looking for a tailor, you may find one on Google maps, but you need to know more than that, like his contact information, his timings, how many machines he has, how many people are working with him, what he charges, how much time he takes for order delivery, etc.”

All that data would streamline decision-making for the people, but that would be only possible when locals worked on it, he added.

Local companies can give inside map of a building, for example, where lifts, offices and doors of particular companies are located.

This whole phenomenon needs local data, which can be collected through surveyors, but people are the prime contributors, as through pinpointing their street or house address they can tell if details of a particular place are wrong and needs to be changed.

Maps are actually information and communication technology (ICT), which many countries are using to operate, maintain and further plan their infrastructure including transport system and electricity system with increased efficiency.

Maps can help PM Imran Khan’s Clean and Green Pakistan campaign. “TPL Maps has given an option to its user for pinning the location, where they find any garbage, on the map,” Shahid said. They can also inform about the schools and hospitals in poor condition through the map.

“Today, we see pictures telling stories of dilapidated roads, schools and hospitals but those pictures do not tell the location,” he said. “We have tried to do it.”

The government can prepare a plan for education, health care and other civic issues with the help of data collected through maps.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2019.

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