?EUR~How Do I Get There??EUR(TM)

Published Date
01 - Mar - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2005
‘How Do I Get There?’
The geographically challenged amongst us have yet another reason to cheer. Nineteen-year-old Rohan Verma from New Delhi has helped create a Web site that has digitally mapped several cities in India.

MapMyIndia.com, one of the largest map and digital information databases in India, helps you access the map of a particular city, town or village at the click of a mouse. Just type in the name of the state, city and area and bingo, you get a detailed map.

You can choose to zoom in or out further, or even pan across the map to look for a specific area. City maps have a greater resolution, and can be zoomed in to the street level. Maps of rural areas have not yet been charted in such detail.

Cities in the level 1 to 4 segment have maximum detail, and you can choose to plot on the map anything from holy sites to railway stations, and hotels, shopping centres, historical landmarks, hospitals, and even the nearest ATMs.

Digitising India
Created with the help of satellite images and geographical surveys, digital maps resemble photographs with information mapped in the form of points-each point has a specific colour, representing land, water bodies, roads, etc. Digital maps are also accompanied by databases of relevant information-a list of popular tourist spots, for example.

Intended to be an Indian version of popular international ventures such as Yahoo! Maps and Mapquest, MapMyIndia was an idea born during Verma's summer internship with CE Info Systems, a Delhi-based company that has been involved in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) development for the past decade.

Says Verma, "I wanted to develop a service that was India-specific. It was originally intended to be an Indian version of Mapquest, but now we're thinking of adding more services relevant to India."

The MapMyIndia team has currently mapped about 35 cities and several villages, with more being added on a weekly basis. The team is also collaborating with state governments to execute the project.

It (MapMyIndia) was originally intended to be an Indian version of Mapquest, but now we're thinking of adding more services
Rohan Verma, The brain behind MapMyIndia.com

Says Rakesh Verma, MD of CE Info Systems, "We received numerous requests from users and members of the GIS community to prepare an interactive and user-friendly map-based information services."

By making the service available on the Web, MapMyIndia has made it easy for anyone with a PC and an Internet connection to access the information. "We aim to empower anyone who travels within India-be they local residents or business travellers or tourists," affirms Rohan Verma.

MapMyIndia also provides customised solutions for businesses. Displaying the location of a company, bank or hotel on an interactive map could be an attractive value-add for a customer. 

Says Verma, "We could extend our GIS services to ATMs, for example. Using the Store/Enterprise Locator feature on the site, people who are in a particular area can log on and find an ATM."

MapMyIndia will soon also provide business listings, which can help customers identify business districts, restaurants, and so on.

Track Your Team
In 2000, CE Info Systems launched 'Mappls Mumbai Pathfinder' in print and CD-ROM versions, a comprehensive collection of digital maps of localities in Mumbai city. 'Pathfinder' covered over 800 square kilometres of geographical area, demarcated by PIN codes, telephone exchanges, police stations, municipal wards and so on.

The collection is in the form of sectional maps of 15 square kilometres, each linked to the other. The maps depict every street and road in a particular area, including prominent landmarks, offering a magnified view of up to one square kilometre of select localities-and even individual buildings.

Although Pathfinder was a fairly comprehensive undertaking, an online venture, feels Verma, would help a lot more people access and utilise the digital map database. MapMyIndia has now tied up with several corporate organisations, as  well as the Government of India, to add more cities, towns and villages to their database.

The company is also planning more features such as car-based navigation systems, and local tracking systems-for parents to track children returning from school with the driver, for example, or a company to track its sales force through mobile phones and other WAP/GPRS enabled devices. These services will be made available to customers via MapMyIndia's "Business Solutions" section.

Stanford Sophomore
Rohan Verma's initial ideation was followed by exhaustive research on the technology backend, the business model, and design specifics. Post the launch, in the first month alone, the Web site registered a million hits-a number that has been steadily on the rise.

The MapMyIndia.com team currently comprises software developers, cartographers and GIS digital experts.

Rohan Verma is currently pursuing a BS in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in the US. At Stanford, Verma is involved with the Hindi Film Dance club ("There is only one kind of Indian dance out here, and that's the Bollywood kind!"), sports and entrepreneurship cells.

He has earned many accolades, including the 'Best Work Study Student Award' from the Stanford University Registrar (for making the Stanford Bulletin Web site more accessible and Net-friendly), and the President's Award for Academic Excellence in the Freshman Year.

Verma foresees a career in chip design or architecture. "I also want to develop and offer some world class location-based services to people in India," he says.

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