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How to (Quickly) Make a Bus Map

Best possible outcome

2 weeks From data collection to first print / prototype

$5K Assuming you can borrow phones and computers

Through our Kickstarter, we’ve heard that there are other cities around the world that are interested in a public bus map for their (often rapidly growing) city. While there is no secret recipe, we hope this short slide show can give you a window into what it might take.

Step 1 Recruit your flock Step 2 Build on the shoulders of giants Step 3 Determine the appropriate info-product(s) Step 4 Select the appropriate data collection tools Step 5 Collect and make sense of data Step 6 Design, publish, iterate (if necessary) Mail us

1 Recruit Your Flock Data collection is not easy – especially on moving buses. Our top qualities for a good flock is one that 1) share your values, 2) rides the vehicle that you are looking to map, The First Bus Map of Dhaka 3) can mobilize quickly, and 4) gives brutally honest feedback. Jackets help too.

2 Build on the shoulders of giants While it’s likely that there is little up-to-date information on what you are mapping, it’s important to do a thorough job of looking for what has been done before and contacting those who have done it. It may turn out that those are the people who can help sustain your project in the future.


3 Determine the Appropriate Info-Product(s) In Dhaka, a physical bus sign may be the best way to reach bus riders. In Nairobi, SMS. Your final info-products should guide your data collection process and not the other way around.

4 Select the Appropriate Data Collection Tools While sometimes the best tools will be pen and paper, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets make data collection easier to monitor and manage esp when you have a large flock. They also can be programmed to simultaneously collect data that is automatically sensored and human sensored like crowding.

5 Collect and make sense of data Depending on the complexity of the bus network and the enthusiasm and size of your flock, collecting the appropriate data could be completed in 1-2 weeks. That’s how long it took us to collect data on 70+ bus routes in Dhaka with a dedicated flock of 6-8. What was just as hard was to organize these routes so that they could be presented in a clear way to riders. For us, that meant analyzing and reanalyzing the map, creating new route labels and clustering buses based on their routes and not on their color.

6 Design, Publish and Iterate

Mail Us.

We’d love to help where we can if it’s looking over your data from afar or visiting where you are (subject to our schedules). Our only requirement is that all the data you collect and the tools you create are made available in the public domain for anyone, in any city to use.

How to (Quickly) Make a Bus Map  

By the Urban Launchpad in January 2013

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