Problem Definition in Dhaka

Jan 26, 2013 | Creative, Print design

illustration design

The Illustration

I came across this project on dribbble. Urban Launchpad had posted a lovely illustration that caught my eye. The illustration reminded me of traffic in India which is such a mess. I clicked around to learn more about what UL was up to. It turns out the illustration was indeed all about traffic and the travel problems in Dhaka the capital of Bangladesh (not too far from India).

I’m impressed with the creative minds of UL for taking on such a huge project. As you can imagine if someone does not tackle this problem soon it will only get harder to solve as the population of 18 million (and growing) buys more vehicles for their households. Dhaka, aka the slowest city in the world, has a real problem. The pictures of Dhaka’s traffic (below) remind me of some of the videos I shot while traveling in India. From UL’s pictures and my video hopefully you can see what’s going on in terms of traffic all the way across the world.



I was only in India for two weeks. In the video I mention that the traffic disaster was “comical”, but try getting around town like this day after day? What a huge stressful problem!

The problem

Dhaka does not have a bus map.

“Problem solving is problem definition. If you can define the problem, you’re 90% home.”  – Ivan Chermayeff

So UL and Kewkradong partnered to define the problem. They made a bus tracker and a survey app. A year ago they started tracking frequently traveled routes using their smartphones and collecting data on Dhaka’s bus system.

They traveled hundreds of buses which I can only imagine would be an extremely draining chore. They also surveyed 1,000 people. The data they collected helped them get a real picture of the problem of not just routes, but travel times. They also looked at what made the travelers happy in such overly crowded trips!

The Map

They took all of their research and created the solution – the first comprehensive map of Dhaka’s bus network. Most people there do not have smartphones or tablets so they used printed paper to get their maps out and in the hands of consumers. They printed the pocket and large format versions of paper maps locally in Dhaka.



For every map you buy they will print 5 for the people in Dhaka.

This project is such a great reminder that our creative work can impact the world, literally.

*Updated to reflect broken links.

Related Blogs

Skip to content