DHAKA – A team of researchers have travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to begin the painstaking process of mapping every single garment factory in the country. The researchers are carrying out a door to door census, visiting thousands of factories, equipped with mobile apps. This will allow them to amass thousands of GPS-linked data points collected on the ground from factory owners, workers and organisations in the boldest step yet towards radical transpacency in garment supply chains.
Digital specialist Sourcemap is partnering with C&A Foundation and BRAC University (BRAC U) in Bangladesh to administer the survey. The aim is to create a new digital factory map that will democratise data collection and transparency by permanently transitioning accountability for factory improvements to Bangladeshis.
As the data is fed into Sourcemap’s supply chain mapping and transparency platform, the aim is to provide global apparel brands and consumers with radical transparency in one of world’s largest garment producing regions.
The timing of the project is critical, as April 24 will mark five years since the factory collapse at Rana Plaza outside Dhaka that took the lives of 1,135 people.
“A big part of our commitment to have Bangladeshis own and control this data comes down to designing the right interface,” said Rhea Rakshit, director of design for Sourcemap. “The goal is to make it as simple as possible to collect data from factories on the ground, and then allow apparel brands and other stakeholders to gain access to it through an easy to use mapping platform.”
The garment industry in Bangladesh employs approximately four million people. Alarmingly though, most workers report to factories that are invisible on the supply chain – even to the multinational brands ultimately purchasing their products. The BRAC U survey will put each of these factories on the map. In addition to factory and worker statistics, types of products manufactured, the names of clothing brands that each factory manufactures for will also be captured.
“All data will be uploaded on Sourcemap cloud servers and visible to the public,” said a note from Sourcemap. “Ultimately, this transparency will increase the accountability of brands, decrease risk to workers, and add value to Bangladeshi products.
Dr. Leonardo Bonanni, CEO of Sourcemap, remarked on the project: “The crowdsourced garment factory map promises to make the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label an asset to apparel brands and a point of consumer pride worldwide.”