Lights won’t guide you home in B’luru: Meet the woman mapping the city’s streetlights

Anindita has mapped streetlights on 16 km of Bengaluru’s roads, and only 38% of those work.
 Lights won’t guide you home in B’luru: Meet the woman mapping the city’s streetlights
Lights won’t guide you home in B’luru: Meet the woman mapping the city’s streetlights

Citizen warriors of Bengaluru have started projects to reclaim the city and make their voices heard. While Manju Thomas started blocking the footpath and talking to bikers to ensure that they don’t drive on the footpaths and hence made them safer, another resident is now mapping streetlights in the city.

In March, 27-year-old Manju Thomas decided to block the way of bikers who would drive on the pedestrian footpath. Every time she sees a bike on the footpath, she blocks the riders, forces them to get back on the road, and tries to educate people in the process that the bike is meant to be on the road, not the footpath.

Street lights are one of the least spoken-about civic amenities in a city that often has pothole-ridden roads and foaming lakes grabbing attention. 27-year-old product analyst Anindita Nayak wants to change that by mapping street lights in the city.

The trigger for this mission, however, comes from the fear of her own safety.

“I personally have seen way too many accidents in Bangalore. I take a two-wheeler to work. I know it's not a safe option but I don't have a choice. Every day when I step out I think that okay, I hope I don't have to see an accident today or not meet with an accident myself,” Anindita tells TNM.

A Bengaluru resident for the last four years, Anindita says that streetlights as a road safety measure are largely neglected. Anindita was motivated to do something about the problem when a friend lost his father due to such an accident in 2016.

“He was driving late in the night on Hosur Road, hit a pothole and just died without any mistake of his own. That's what triggered me to do something about it” Anindita recounts.

‘38% of the streetlights work’

It was only in March 2018 when Anindita came across a suitable open-source mapping platform — GoMap! — that she acted on the idea. And since then, she has mapped close to 16 km of Bengaluru’s roads, utilising her weekends for this purpose.

The areas surveyed are in the eastern fringes of the city, along the Outer Ring Road from Silk Board to Marathahalli and some parts of Sarjapura Main Road.

On these stretches, Anindita has mapped a total of 1050 street lamps but has found that only 38% of them function.

Other concerned citizens have offered to help, but there has been no response from the authorities. “I have not heard from the BBMP after I had registered a complaint on the website. Nor have I got a reply on Twitter,” she says.

Since the start of April, Anindita has been maintaining a blog titled ‘The Silence of the Lamps’ and is looking to collaborate with like-minded citizens for this cause. You can read the blog to understand how to use a similar mapping platform and add to the data.

You can also reach out to her here for this project or tweet at her.

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