If you live in Lahore, you know how it feels to get lost.
In some ways, this can be a good thing. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Getting lost in a city, no doubt about it, can be one of life’s greatest delights, and Lahore offers plenty of opportunities. This eclectic city—built by centuries of impulsive and short-lived “landlords”-—is low on way finding and rich with winding roads.
Though being lost can be an existential experience, let’s face it, sometimes you just need to get to an appointment. And you’re 30 minutes late. And you’re sweating and nervous. And you wish so desperately that you could look up and see a sign that would point the way.
A trio of impassioned mapmakers and technologists--Asim Fayaz, Omer Sheikh, and Khurram Siddiqi--are going to use the $10,000 from their City 2.0 Award to become the superheroes for those desperate and lost in the latter scenario. They are taking Allama Iqbal Town, one of the most densely populated localities in Lahore, and using it as a demonstration, of sorts.
The signs they put up will follow international standards and have road names in Urdu and English. In addition to installing the new signage, they will also engage a team of paid experts and passionate volunteers to maintain the signs for a trial period of three months, documenting the time and effort required.
This will allow them to convince government officials of the sustainability of a scaled up effort to cover the most confusing parts of Lahore--many of which are also where the most interesting mosques and tombs are tucked away--with signage.
Lahore doesn’t lack street signs because it’s people aren’t interested in navigation. In fact, when Google Map Maker was launched, Lahore became the fastest mapped city in the world. Unfortunately, they still don’t have 3G and smart phone penetration isn’t high among the nearly 10 million residents. That’s why this trio is set on making an old-fashioned intervention: real signs for right now.
This way, Lahoris can choose when they get lost.