First Asian conference on GIS, GPS, aerial photography and remote sensing a success.

"It was an unique and historical moment for Asian Geo-informatics community", said Dr Nitin Kumar Tripathi, Organising Secretary, Map Asia 2002. And that was absolutely correct. Never before any forum for geo-informatics had attracted such a wide participation from academia, government and industry in Asia. No forum had such an unprecedented representation from most of the countries from Asia. A look at statistics will bear me out. Participation was an amazing number, 508 delegates from over 30 counties. Thailand topped the list with 137 delegates closely followed by 135 delegates from India. There were 29 delegates from Singapore, 15 from Australia, 14 from China, 13 from Malaysia and Vietnam each, 10 from Japan, 8 from Myanmar and interestingly 5 from Brunei.

How did it take off? Map Asia 2002, the first conference of its kind, in the field of mapping technologies of GIS, GPS, Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing was the result of joint initiative by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand; the Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions (CSDMS), India and the Geo-Informatics & Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand. HP, MapInfo and Autodesk sponsored the conference.

Map Asia 2002 was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister, Professor Murli Manohar Joshi, Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India in the presence of over 500 delegates of over 30 countries on August 7, 2002 at Hotel Shangri-la Bangkok. Professor Joshi highlighted the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Science and Technology to develop India’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The aim, he said, was to provide an overarching framework within all the major spatial data producing agencies of Central Government. He also elaborated that the innovative programme initiated by the Survey of India in association with the Indian Space Research Organisation, various Institutes of Technology and University Departments and the Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions were intended to reach out to hundreds of schools for starting creation of neighbourhood maps. Professor Joshi visualized that such initiatives can be extended to the entire Asian region. In his view, it could be done at two levels. At level one, the NSDI of all Asian countries could come together to form a Regional Spatial Data Infrastructure. At the other level, various interested countries of the region may start a programme with school children all over Asia on the lines of programme initiated in India.

Professor Joshi presented the lifetime achievement award to Professor Shunji Murai, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo, Japan for his sterling contributions in the filed of geo-informatics technology.

The conference was addressed by H E Pichate Satirichaval, Deputy Minister for Industry, Government of Thailand. He highly appreciated the Map Asia initiative taken by AIT, CSDMS and GISTDA. He emphasized the need of regional cooperation among Asian countries in the field of geo-informatics technology.

During the inaugural ceremony, Dr Suvit Vibulshresth, Director GISTDA dwelt upon various activities of GISTDA. He also apprised the delegates about the recent agreements that India and Thailand have signed in the field of space technology.

The welcome address was delivered by Dr Nitin Kumar Tripathi, Organising Secretary, Map Asia 2002. He welcomed the delegates and emphasized that the conference was not be a hard-core research oriented meet or a totally commercial one but its objective was to highlight technology applications and user facilitation. It goes without saying that outputs of research are meant to be used ultimately by the members of the community. The gathering was also addressed by Professor Mario Tabucanon, Provost, Asian Institute of Technology and Dr M P Narayanan, President, CSDMS. Dr Narayanan laid great stress on the need of regional co-operation to address various issues as problems in the region were more or less of a similar nature.

The conference was able to provide a platform for sharing the latest developments in the field of Geo-informatics to a large gathering of distinguished people, including top decision makers, existing as well as prospective users, academicians, vendors, policy makers and representatives of various NGOs and international organizations working for promoting the cause of the technology. The conference was expected to evolve as a forum to meet the growing needs of a regional forum where geo-spatial community of Asia could deliberate upon the issues related to the development of geo-information technology in regional context.

On the very first day there were two keynote sessions one on Geo-informatics in Asia and the other on Spatial Data Infrastructure. The sessions were addressed by several celebrities to name only a few: Prof Shunji Murai, Secretary General, Asian Association of Remote Sensing, Japan; Dr Wicha Jiwalai, Chairman, GISTDA, Thailand; Prof. Karl Harmsen, Director, UNCSSTE-AP, India; Dr Hui Lin, Director, Geoinformatic Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Kaname Ikeda, Executive Director, National Space Development Agency (NASDA); Japan, Prof H N Phien, Dean, School of Advanced Technologies, AIT, Thailand; Amitabha Pande, Joint Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; Dr Suvit Vibulsresth, Director, GISTDA, Thailand; Sean Richards, Product Manager, MapInfo Australia Pty Ltd, and Ravi Gupta, Director, CSDMS, India.

The second day started with a keynote session on Technology Trends with presentations by Dr Franz Steidler, Director CyberCity, Switzerland; Dennis Branthonne, Product Manager, Autodesk, Singapore; Jorge Simal, Business Development Manager, HP and K R Sridhara Murthi, Antrix Corporation Ltd., India. The Keynote session was followed by Technical Sessions on Forestry, Education and Health, Web GIS, Land Use/Land Cover, Geo-science, Coastal Zone Management, GPS and Mapping, Water Resources, Environment and Location Based Services. There was a poster session and technology show by MapInfo, HP and Autodesk. On the third day technical sessions on Digital Image Processing, Technology Trends, Agriculture, Utility and Policy were convened. There were around 80 technical paper presentations generally followed by interesting discussions with the delegates.

On the third day during valedictory ceremony awards were presented to the best technical paper presentation, the best application paper presentation, the best poster award, the best exhibitor from government and private sector. During valedictory session Dr Wicha Jiwalai, Chairman GISTDA appreciated the initiative as it gave an opportunity to students to learn and update themselves about this technology. Dr Suvit Vibulsresth, Director GISTDA considered this initiative extremely relevant in the present scenario and emphasized the need of regional cooperation. The session was also addresses by Prof M Kusanagi, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.

No doubt, Map Asia 2002 was an historical moment. However, it is just a beginning as Dr. M P Narayanan emphasized on the need to institutionalise the concept of Map Asia and also to take geo-informatics technology to the common man. A new era seems to emerging but there is a long way to go for translating this historical moment into a historical process.

At Map Asia 2002, an exhibition on GIS, GPS, Remote Sensing, Aerial Photography and related technologies was organised. It offered an opportunity to the companies not only to present their technology to potential users but also to update the developments in their products and services to their existing users. Over 25 companies participated in this exhibition. These companies received very encouraging feedback from delegates and were extremely happy with the response.

Life Time Achievement Award
Professor Shunji Murai, Professor Emiritus, University of Tokyo, Japan

Best Technical Paper
Adaptive Multi-Image matching Algorithm for the Airborne Digital Sensor ADS40 Maria Pateraki and Emmanuel Baltsavias, Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, Zurich, Switzerland

Best Application Paper
Navigation Application with Mobile Telephony: Shortest Path
Jacey-Lynn Minoi, Peter Green, Sylvester Arnab, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Sarawak, Malaysia

Best Poster Paper
Vegetation Mapping of Kushiro Wetland in Northeast Hokkaido, Japan Michiru Miyamoto, Kunihiko Yoshino, Keiji Kushida, Yehei Sato, University of Tokyo, Japan

Best Exhibitor (Government)
Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, India

Best Exhibitor (Industry) MapInfo


  • It was a first successful initiative of its kind
  • Thrust was neither on too much of research nor too much of commercial soliciting but was focused on user and application orientation
  • Over 500 delegates from government, industry and academia
  • Around 80 paper presentations were made
  • Participation of over 25 exhibitors
  • Lifetime achievement award was given to Professor Shunji Murai
  • Regional cooperation emerged as key issue at the meet
  • The success of Map Asia 2002 demonstrated the acute need of such a regional forum on a regular basis.

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