Mapping Afghan cities

Google is working with a number of tech companies and volunteers in Afghanistan to map the Afghan cities.  This is such a wonderful idea.

This CNN report is about the volunteers in Herat who are working to map their town. As a result of their work, Herat’s Google Map has more details now with names both in Engish and Dari.

For Kabul also we see a significant amount of details being added on it’s Google Map, though a lot of the names are not spelled correctly and they are only in Pashto and English ( a few street names are in Dari, which is worse: they all should be in one or both official languages, not  mixed). Some street names are wrong, for example, the Mazari Road in West Kabul is put on another street. The actual Mazari road is remained unnamed.

Reading the street names gets more disappointing when you realize the spelling problem is not an occasional mistake, but a common occurrence. The persons writing these names, were probably illiterate. These are some examples: “Siro for Silo”, “اقرب به جای عقرب” (the actual name of the street is “3rd of Hoot”, but they have put “3rd of Aqrab” – both are the names of Afghan months, 3rd of Hoot refers to a bloody day in late 70s when Kabulis demonstrated against the communist regime), “Wuluswali Deh-Sabz” for “Deh-Sabs” (you don’t put “the district of ….” on a map, you just put the name of the place).

Anyways, I hope Google hires a person with good knowledge of Kabul and some editorial skills to improve the quality of the city map. If the Kabul municipality name properly the streets and number the houses, it is not very unlikely to even have Kabul’s Street View images on Google Map some day soon.


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