Calling a government official in Pakistan for data is a tasking experience, and a large majority of government-run websites simply don’t work or look like they were designed in the early 1990s. The gap has been filled by a number of organisations who collate data in the fields they focus on. Arif Hasan of the Urban Resource Centre is set to provide a one-stop source on the issues he has worked on in his career, including a trove of maps dating to 1838.
Hasan told The Express Tribune that the website will be launched in the first or second week of August, and is being financially supported by the International Institute for Environment and Development in the UK, an organisation that works on international development and environment policy research, which asked Hasan to build the website. According to Hasan, the website will feature “various articles that I have written over the years on development, politics, history, environment, rural development and urban planning issues.”
Additionally, it will have a full listing and brief descriptions of the books Hasan has authored and contributed to. Users will also be able to find Hasan’s academic papers on urban planning and the Orangi Pilot Project, which he helped set up. This will not just entail information on Karachi but Hasan’s work throughout Pakistan as well as other Asian countries.
It will also feature YouTube videos of Hasan’s lectures as well as select architectural and planning works.
“From what I gather, we will also have a photo section of Karachi, of various images over the years. There will also be a section of maps, beginning with the first known map of Karachi from 1838,” Hasan told The Express Tribune.
Even though a considerable deal of Hasan’s work is featured on the Urban Resource Centre’s website – which journalists and researchers often refer to - a key need to develop a website was based on the demands of academia all over the world. “The reason for launching the website was that I couldn’t personally answer all the queries asked [by] students, professors, academic journals and international organisations. This has been going on for a long time. I didn’t do it [launch a website] because I didn’t think it was necessary but the amount of pressure and demand for information led to this.” He is also thinking of linking to websites on urban issues such as transport and housing. Hasan’s colleagues are working on the project and as soon as the URL is finalised The Express Tribune will provide that information.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.