Nepali-made location apps are getting credit for their increasing accuracy

Nepali-made location apps are getting credit for their increasing accuracy

When Raj Bikram Maharjan ordered an oximeter online after his mother contracted Covid-19 in 2020, the delivery man couldn’t easily find his house.

“It took almost half an hour to track my location even though it was close to my house. I had to call often,” said Maharjan. “The problem was due to bad location information.”

Maharjan, who previously worked as an aircraft maintenance engineer at Himalaya Airlines after graduating in aeronautical engineering in China in 2014, believed that high-resolution maps created using drones could provide people with better location information.

In July 2020, Maharjan began working on the idea with his friends Janam Maharjan and Ashon Shakya.

Galli Maps, an app that helps you locate houses and landmarks, was launched in April 2022 in Kirtipur Municipality.

The application also uses house numbers provided by municipalities.

“While the app can be useful in disaster relief, it allows e-commerce businesses to deliver at the doorstep,” said Maharjan.

Many countries around the world have their own software and apps for navigation and location, which Nepali developers say are more accurate than Google Maps.

“Google Maps, which uses satellite data, cannot provide information Gallicthe alleys like Indra chowk, Ason and Swayambhu,” said Maharjan, also CEO of Galli Maps.

“Google Maps cannot accurately differentiate between alleys, residential and main roads,” said Prithvi Jung Khadka, head of business development at Baato, another mapping app.

Although the Baato application started operating in January this year, it was available to businesses as an application programming interface from 2020.

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Kathmandu Living Labs, which has been involved in open street mapping in Nepal since 2013, is the parent company of Baato.

Khadka believes that Baato can be an ideal choice for those who have difficulty using Google Maps due to language barriers or other reasons.

“It will be more useful for Nepalis as most of us are used to using landmarks instead of road names,” said Khadka. “This feature is under development.”

Apart from being an option for Nepali speakers, Baato also offers an offline navigation feature.

It recently introduced a new feature where users are notified of a previously enjoyed dish when they are near a restaurant that serves it.

While Galli Maps allows users to search for nearby parking spaces, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, public toilets and ATMs, Baato has an additional feature to search for pharmacies.

According to Maharjan, in addition to Worldlink Communications, UNESCO also used Gallic maps in some of its projects. “Go Taxi, an upcoming taxi app, will also use our service.”

Last December, Galli Maps won the ICT award in the Product category.

However, according to Maharjan, Nepal’s startup ecosystem is not very encouraging compared to a neighboring country like India.

“Many programs are organized to promote startups and entrepreneurship in Nepal, but almost all programs involve the same entrepreneurs,” said Maharjan.

The lack of clear regulations on investments and tax burdens demoralizes entrepreneurs.

“Current government policies treat us startups like an established business when they are struggling to even get a foothold,” Maharjan said. “The regulations of the Companies Office only apply to the establishment of factories, not to startups.”

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“The founder of the startup has to pay capital gains tax on the amount borrowed from investors for investment,” said Maharjan.

Khaka, from Baato, said working with the government was a slow process, adding that the quality of the technology was as important as the state’s policies.

Many countries have begun to prioritize local companies in retaining location data, given the potential national security risks that foreign companies could pose to access such information.

“Although we have not yet lobbied for such a policy, it may be helpful for us if the Nepalese government decides to do so in the coming days,” Khadka added.

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