Desi Programmer @ Work

Why we discontinued MapMyPakistan

Today is the day when I can better explain why we discontinued MapMyPakistan.Three years ago, when I was about to graduate from FAST-NU, I started working on an idea for a startup: Maps for Pakistan. At that time there were no street level maps available and their demand was obvious: Car Navigation, Route Optimization, Courier Services, Supply Chain ... you name it! The use was so obvious that I could think of hundreds of ways of monetization.The real challenge was to get data since there were no accurate street level maps already available, not in hard copy, not even with Survey of Pakistan. As Web 2.0 was getting hot, the most appealing way to get it done was through collaboration.Over the the next two years I did my day job and at night I read research papers, explored different technologies and worked on some prototypes until I was convinced that I was ready work on it fulltime. I gave up my day job, met Dr. Umar Saif who lent in space in his lab for startup, convinced Adil to join me and started working on it. By this time I was familiar with PostGIS, Python, a little bit Django, Google Maps API and some other desktop GIS tools such as Quantum GIS, uDig etc. I had with me one of the best minds I've ever met. The only thing we needed to just do it and do it well.However as we started working on it, we started getting the feeling that probably the big players will be more interested in doing the collaboration on their own and probably acquisition won't be a good exit strategy. In May 2007 Google released My Maps, a service that allows you to create your own simple maps and share them with others. Although it was not truly collaborative, it was heading in the same direction. We also got some news that Google is working on digitizing street level maps of Pakistan.Today it is confirmed that we were thinking in right direction. Today Google has opened Map Maker, a collaborative tool for digital cartography of countries where street maps are unavailable. See the following posts for more info.Google Opens Mapmaker for PakistanGoogle LatLong: Making your mark on the worldI tried using the system, and as always, Google has done it well! I can't wait to see detailed street level maps of Pakistan so I may use my GPS enabled phone for car navigation :)I am happy that we changed direction of 2's Complement. Afterall, we still have some great products on our portfolio including and SeeNReport.comPS: If anyone needs any help related to collaborative mapping, feel free to ask. We'd love to share what we learnt.