GO!Traffic : A Case of Sustainability and Dhaka Traffic

Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team
Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team

Modern communication has fastened our lives but at one point the word communication faces a reverse effect – transport. Dhaka city remains in this reverse effect. Needless to say, how much time and efficiency is lost in traffic congestion, when the ‘checks and balances’ comes to the sector of environmental loss, the account mirrors the reverse of all contributions that has been made to reduce it.

So every time, we switch off our light while leaving the room, we might be contributing in reducing our carbon footprint. However every time we start our car, innumerable of such efforts are reversed in four times as more fuel is burnt in the stops and constant braking due to slow moving vehicles and jay-walkers. Along with the burnt fuel adding to the large scale global warming or the noise pollution blasting our ears, some unseen particles (Suspended Particle Matters, SPM) like NOx, COx, SOx dangerously affects the quality of breathable air along the heat at long ‘stops’ created during traffic. Though not commonly known, this creates the common discomforts in health and can even cause death.

Focusing on these simple yet significant characteristics of traffic, our last articles have been studying such initiatives that discuss the same and can be a solution to the increased carbon footprint utilizing small, everyday individual contributions and close-to-hand facilities. After rastaRObosta and Traffic Alert, this time, we discuss another of the most significant platforms in the sector of crowd-sourced traffic information- GO!Traffic.

Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team
Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team

GO!Traffic is an app created as first of its services by an initiative called GObd.co. The app, which started out as a Facebook group, provides updates on traffic conditions at different points of the city. Being first of its kind from Bangladesh, the facility is found in many of the Android smartphones of the city dwellers and is a way to avoid the stagnancy or ‘stops and brakes’ of traffic by working our way round it.

GObd.co is the brainchild of some brilliant minds, Qasim Rana, Swagata Prateek and Farhan Rahman. It’s mission is to be the premier provider of services and products that may enhance personal and professional productivity. Mr Qasim, born and brought up in the USA, had worked in the satellite communications industry for 12 years before moving to Bangladesh. Mr. Prateek, a graduate from Khulna University of Engineering Technology (KUET), with prestigious awards like Microsoft MVP under his belt,  was one of the key architects of BusMap Dhaka. Mr. Farhan is a graduate from Bowdoin College USA, having a background in corporate management and HR consultancy. He has recently become Head of Business Development at Asset Management here in Bangladesh.

Gobd Founders (L-R): Swagata Prateek, Qasim Rana, Farhan Rahman Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team
Gobd Founders :
(L-R) Swagata Prateek, Qasim Rana, Farhan Rahman
Photo Courtesy: Gobd Team

“We started the business because we got tired of complaining about traffic, and decided to do something about it!” says its creators. We created an app that would provide real-time information for users, so they can make informed decisions to save time & money on the road.”

The app is currently available for Android users at Google Play, while the iOS and Windows versions are under development. A mobile-optimized web app is also available at Gobd.co website. The app uses a simple color-coded system where anyone using it can log in and know the traffic condition of any area by the color depicted to it. Red means ‘heavy traffic’, Yellow means ‘slow but moving’ and Green means ‘smooth flowing’. There is an additional Grey color depicting ‘unknown’.

The different colours associated with the app. Photo Courtesy: 4Matters Team
The different colours associated with the app.
Photo Courtesy: 4Matters Team

Traffic is something frustratingly unpredictable and subject to split-second changes. Saving the loss on fuel and energy at traffic congestion depends much on ‘informed decisions’ at that time. The accuracy of such information and that too, delivered at the right time is crucial in case of planning a route that, not only saves time and money, but is, simultaneously, sustainable. Regarding this GObd says, “GO!Traffic’ is a multi-platform service that provides accurate real-time traffic updates to the palm of your hand. GO!Traffic aggregates multiple data sources to ensure a high level of accuracy in the data.” A strategic data collection field team remains at different areas of the city, observing the changes in the traffic conditions and inputting it accordingly in the app. Systems have been developed that allow different institutional partners to make automated inputs as well while the users themselves can be sources for the information, either directly through the app or through ‘posts’ in the Facebook group. As to the timing and maintenance of these updates, they say, “There are thousands of updates each hour, and we maintain a system of “checks and balances” so that the data is accurate to a great degree. The data is input in “real-time” and each category has its own “life-span” to ensure that minimal traffic information becomes out-of-date.”

GO!Traffic is still in its Beta stage and GObd is constantly working in evolving and ensuring its stability before launching the full version. “We will also expand into other types of services revolving around transportation & inefficiency. Some of these services are already being piloted” , says Qasim. The service of GO!Traffic is currently expanding in Dhaka city but aims to expand into other cities of Bangladesh with at least 1,000,000 users in the next 18 months. In case of its development they say, “Very soon, we will be able to provide route guidance based on current traffic conditions through the app.”

As said before, traffic is constantly changing. The expanding population of both people and vehicles can only mean an uncontrolled increase of traffic pollution and in the whole frustrating process, a loss of attention towards environmental sustainability. In such a case, efficient use of potential platforms like GO!Traffic can help to associate the term ‘sustainable contribution’ while working our way round an everyday mayhem called traffic.

Information Courtesy: Gobd Team

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