I think its high time that we have proper maps of Karachi online – the ones at Apna Karachi are barely upto mark. For instance, I wanted to see exactly where Khayaban e Badban was and thought I’d check online, but Apna Karachi only had maps of a few areas in Defence. Any webmaster up for the task?

25 Comments so far

  1. Moid (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 8:26 pm

    The best way would be to use Google Earth software and mark the places. I have like 100 points on the Karachi map.

  2. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 10:38 pm

    Some person called “Alias” has made a really detailed map (, which needs a little work, but is very impressive.

    We can also have someone capture screenfuls of Karachi from Google Earth at max zoom, and have them stitched together. To find the ideal zoom, keep an eye on the Altitude… it would be best to agree on a single attitude (as far as I remember, 8000 feet was the best for Karachi), and divide the task of capturing among a number of people. Then someone could stitch all of them, which isn’t very hard using Photoshop. I have done something similar with Dubai, but that was easy because Dubai is much smaller than Karachi and in considerably less detail.

    This way we would have a satellite map as well as a graphic map. Then we would need somebody (anathema?) to label all the places (roads, buildings, roundabouts, etc.)

    Last step might be to calibrate the maps so that they can be used for GPS. I can be of considerable help here because I have lots of experience creating my own maps and calibrating them.

    Any volunteers?


  3. whistler (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 10:51 pm

    Nice idea. I am willing to help in any way i can. I have been thinking for days, karachi needs something like this. I’ll try to find more volunteers. Although for the size of karachi, labeling would be really difficult.

  4. Zainuddin Zafar (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 11:04 pm

    I’m the administrator of techpakistan and would love to help in any way i can!

  5. moiz (unregistered) on November 9th, 2005 @ 11:37 pm

    m doing software engineering and have a vast experience over several m up for it too : )

  6. Imtiaz (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 12:14 am

    Although the info gathering is a cool idea, but what is the exact purpose?

    Id love to be a part of it, but the purpose as to be clear. it wouldnt make too much sense re-inventing the wheel, only to know that our version of the wheel isnt round enough to run on the road we want it to!

    we need to know what we plan to do with this info before starting off.

    Info Update. Ppl at wolrdcall have everything mapped out. they have mapped every lamp post and every shop in over half of karachi. Ive seen my own house on it too. It looks like a scene from “enemy of the state”. freaky huh? I have been told that PTCL is intersted in buying the GIS mapping that worldcall has done.

    lahore is also in progress.

    They are using the GIS to identify ideal pathways for deploying their optic fibre underground and over land hybrid coaxial cables.

    Trakker ppl also have the whole karachi GPS mapped.

  7. Moid (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 12:33 am


    does WorldCall has mapping utp the street address level?

  8. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 1:38 am

    Imtiaz, even if WorldCall has done the GIS mapping, do you think they would give it to us for free? We want some type of detailed map which we can get for free, or at least a very nominal amount. GIS is too much, we can atleast have a clear, labelled map of our city. It’s not called “reinventing the wheel”; you could call it “making a cheaper but not necessarily better wheel”. Ever heard of open source software? Or is that reinventing the wheel too?

    Another idea that occurred to me was that I have seen VERY detailed maps with the estate agents. If someone could get hold of maps for different areas, scan them in and stitch them together, that would be a pretty good start!

  9. Moid (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 2:17 am

    I would really like a wiki type effort on Karachi map.

  10. quratulain khan (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 3:36 am

    has anyone read kartography? brilliant book about karachi by kamila shamsie. she speaks of maps, or lack thereof. we grow up in this city giving and receiving directions in terms of landmarks (go straight straight straight on the aga khan wali road, turn right in the khaadi wali lane). but i’ve wondered how tourists get around here. must be pretty darn confusing. a map would be mind-blowing! i know there is someone at the karachi university who knows a lot about cartography and has some maps of karachi. no idea how extensive they are. but might be worth looking into.

  11. Imtiaz (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 6:19 am

    Moid: yes…ud be surprised how detailed ur their maps are….they even have every buiding mapped, down to the number of apartments it has (it even has names of principal residents and the number of occupants the building has).

    Khurram: Dude……i agree no one is gonna give it to us for free, but the purpose of my question was to determine the use we are going to put the map info to.

    What do we want to achieve?

    Is it a GPS guidance device plug in? (for which we do need street level scale maps)
    Is it a tourist guide? (for which we dont need plot number or scale level maps)

    Yeah…estate agents have street level maps….of DHA in specific……
    i have a friend who is a property dealer for DHA & Clifton areas. But they have to be brought down a standard scale level too. Do able, but may have some issues.

    I can speak to him about borrowing them for a cpl of days (over weekends i guess).

    Does anyone have (access to) a large scanner??

  12. alias (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 11:21 am

    As Khurram mentions in his comment (up there at no. 2) I have been working on the map for more than an year now. The method he mentions is somewhat complicated. Instead, let me explain how the whole GIS thing works. First, about GIS (Geographic Information System):

    You usually start off with a satellite photo, and a high-res one too at that. Using a program designed for the purpose, you start drawing roads, buildings, parks, everything or anything that you want to use or is of importance to you. All of this has to be done manually by hand, so it’s a pretty time consuming and tiring job. After you’ve done the above, the software you’re using will allow you to export the data in the format you want it in be it for your GPS, paper map, Google Earth KML or a simple text file.

    Since accomplishing the above is quite laborious, it does require a lot of resources. Besides, satellite photography (best being IKONOS 61 cm as in Google Earth) costs about $15 per sq. km. (if you get it cheap). The Karachi distributers ask you $21 per sq km.. So yes, its very expensive, and only multinationals do it.

    Now, what’s going on in Pakistan concerning the maps:

    GIS in Pakistan is not new. It’s been there for a long while, but not to a large scale, just a few companies scattered here and there. The first major initiative was taken by SUPARCO, when they started buying satellite imagery and creating the applications for vehicle tracking. That’s the data that Vtrack and Ctrack are using. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t have anything of their own.

    WorldCall started their GIS effort last year. Their database was designed to serve their own purpose. But it’s VERY detailed, just like someone mentioned above.

    MultiNet (did I get the name right?) got their GIS effort too underway a while ago when they started their fibre-optic layering across the country. Atleast, I can assume they did, because any such effort is doomed to failure without GIS.

    The above are the only large-scale GIS mapping efforts in action. Since collecting and managing those resources is very costly, so is the selling price for that data. Hence, buying that data from Suparco or WorldCall would be out of the question, unless you’ve got a business proposition to back it up with.

    But that was the technical side. Here’s the legal side. The Geoloical Survey of Pakistan is responsible for all mapping in the country. They will not allow you to produce any map, or buy any vector overlay data (technical/legal-get-around term for GIS info) without their permission. So yes, individuals cannot buy that data from the companies above any way. At least not legally. But you could if you were PTCL, SSGC, KESC, SNGP, etc. you get the idea.

    So what alternatives are we left with? Simple, we start are own open source initiative, just like the way some NGOs did in India. There are several ways for us to accomplish the task without spending any money. Here’s my first idea, so listen up. We won’t need to follow the same method as multinationals do, as we’ve got one of the best GIS tools already available for free, namely Google Earth. We could use GE in 2 ways:

    1. We download GE, and everyone pools in their waypoints and locations they’ve been able to mark. All of this could be centralised to a website with 1 KML which everyone could update and download.


    2. We take out the satellite imagery from GE Plus/Pro and stitch it together. It’s huge and will be a daunting task. But if you’re smart enough, you can automate the whole task. You then import it to any GIS software, and start clicking your mouse away. We could make the above available to everyone and they in turn could submit their data back to the website they took it from. Once everyone starts pooling in data, we could accomplish the whole mapping task without even the need of waiting for Navteq or TeleAtlas (multinational mapping companies) to step in for us.

    The first method is easy. But the info we could collect would be limited to roads, railways and POIs (points of interest). The 2nd method would require more effort, but would get enough detail info to have building floors and apartments mapped out. GE is also not accurate when it comes to geographical coordinates so we could correct that with method 2.

    I had been thinking about the above for a long while now, but I’m not even remotely connect to the GIS industry, so my efforts have been limited. The PDF map I created was done using method 2, but it got in the way of my studies, and hence, had to be halted. So yes, it’s not something we could assign to one person, but a collective effort could do the trick.

    I plan to come up with something by next month, (when the semester ends) something to which everyone could contribute to and take help from. If anyone’s got any ideas, Huma gave you the perfect place to share them at.


  13. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

    Alias, can you tell me which specific software you use for GIS?

  14. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

    Alias, can you tell me which specific software you use for GIS?

  15. alias (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 7:20 pm

    The easiest GIS software I hear is MapInfo ( I personally found it difficult, so I used Canvas X from ACDSee Systems. For light-weight work, though, I prefer OziExplorer and GPSMapEdit. MapInfo is rather difficult to get hold of, so you might want to try QGIS as it’s opensource.

    Do you already use any GIS software, Khurram? Any plans?

  16. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 13th, 2005 @ 12:35 pm

    I haven’t userd any GIS software per se. I used the mapping programs with my GPS software to calibrate maps I made from Google Earth or downloaded from the net. I am downloading and trying to use QGIS as of this moment.

    PS: Alias, you aren’t Jeniffer Garner by any chance are you? :P

  17. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 13th, 2005 @ 12:35 pm

    I haven’t userd any GIS software per se. I used the mapping programs with my GPS software to calibrate maps I made from Google Earth or downloaded from the net. I am downloading and trying to use QGIS as of this moment.

    PS: Alias, you aren’t Jeniffer Garner by any chance are you? :P

  18. Arshad (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 11:13 am

    would love to help in any way i can!

  19. Khurram Farooq (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    Any updates on this venture yet? This is something I would really love to have.

  20. Muddassir Kazmi (unregistered) on December 9th, 2005 @ 4:37 pm

    some can help me in MapInfo software? and also send me the digitalmap of pakistan


  21. Zag (unregistered) on December 9th, 2005 @ 6:36 pm

    anyone here has the most placemarks for google earth, Karachi? Can they send me the file?

  22. sajid (unregistered) on December 23rd, 2005 @ 12:54 am

    Woowwwoo. nice thread running around. Mr Alias and khurram farook. im an NED student and doing my final project on it. i have made a complete project on vehicle tracking alone and done it alomost . i m using map info trials for mapping facilities. please include me in this work . i myself thought this idea of merging google maps . and im a professional graphics designer as well . so may i help you…. do inform me .

  23. alias (unregistered) on December 28th, 2005 @ 10:15 pm

    And so it begins…

    Join me at

  24. Sajida Perveen (unregistered) on January 11th, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

    Yes the Field of GIS in development studies in pakistan in not a new one but atleast it is not used at such a smaller scale that any layman can use it, it required licneced sogtwares, hardwares,, and most important of all satellite images, cartographics maps, accurate data bases. etc. so , but it all is possible by touching the personnels already in the field. i also have some experience in this field coz i am working as a GIS TEchnical Specialist in an private firm and have successfully completed many of the projects using GIS. any one who have interest to know or get knowlege about that field can contact me at my email address,( so i will try my best to answer that queries with the help of my vision and my teachers guidness,

  25. Tausif (unregistered) on February 19th, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

    hi dear friends it is a very beneficial idea so please have courage and do your best efforts, You can also contac the master plan department of City Goverment which has been allocated billion of ruppes for making the detialed maps of karachi and its masterplan. you can contact Mr Atteeq Baig the EDO OF Master plan department of City government. its office is localted in civic centres 9th floor. dont be afraid as they have nice lifts there . I am a Journalist and working in a local newspaper,please let me know what can i do for u

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