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Snail mail enthusiast looks to draft virtual map of post boxes in India
SHWETA SHARMA  9th Feb 2013

Pictures of post boxes in Bangalore

hen was the last time you walked up to the nearest post box to drop that carefully written snail mail? Rather, when was the last time you actually spotted a post box? Bothered by the absence of once easily available letter boxes, Bangalore-based developer Thejesh GN decided to collate information about all the 'surviving' ones in the country and make the database available.

"I like sending post cards home when I am travelling. But it is always difficult to find a post box to post a card and hence the idea. You can call it something like a 'scratch your own itch' kind of a project. There aren't many post boxes nowadays. So for last few months, I had been taking geo tagged pictures thinking one day I will clean them up. But that never happened. Then, the online photo-sharing service, Instagram, gave me an option to collect and organise this data in a fun way. I jumped into it, and the Open Post Box Project was born", he says.

For the open sourced project, Thejesh clicks a picture of the post boxes he spots and Instagrams it with #openbangalore #postbox and #pin. The crowd-sourced project currently lists 38 post boxes in Karnataka and three in New Delhi (two in Safdarjung Enclave and one in Lodhi Colony). "I also geo tag them. I have a script which uses the Instagram API (application programming interface) and pulls the image URL, tags, location, time and user credits out of it, cleans up that data and inserts into a SQLite database (a database management system) that shows on the site. Other tags like #postbox or #postoffice are useful but not necessary", he explains.Image 2nd

Explaining the reason behind using Instagram and Twitter as his mediums, he says, "I apply Instagram because a lot of people make use of it to share pictures. Since it is already on their phones, it becomes easy to start contributing. Twitter implementation is on its way."

With an aim of having data for 1,000 post boxes by the end of this year, Thejesh says, "Now I am waiting for the database to build. I am planning to write a web app where you can search for a post box depending on location or pin code. I will make the database available at OpenBangalore once we reach minimum data. I also have a mobile application in the offing."

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