I am at MapAsia 2006 in Bangkok this week and it looks like there is a good turnout. I must admit that the opening of the exhibition was one of the most unique openings I have experienced. GIS Development, who is the organizer of MapAsia, always seems to find new and unique ways to distinguish their events from the norm.
This afternoon was the inaugural session with representatives from international geospatial organizations and the Royal Thai Government welcoming the delegates. I think one of the most interesting presentations discussed one of the most important issues in Asia, the availability of geospatial data. Geospatial data is traditionally closely guarded and very hard to get access to especially for large scales. Unlike the UK where access to government data is really only restricted because the OS is expected to make a profit, in Asia security is the most common reason I hear for the limited availability of geospatial data.
The most interesting aspect of this is that it appears that the GPS is really taking control of geospatial data out of the hands of governments. In North American parlance the GPS is democratizing geospatial data. In the past you needed governments with expensive technology, first theodylites, and then airplanes, satellites and computers to create maps. Now anybody with $100 can buy a GPS and create maps. A classic example of this the famous Indian project called Map the Neighbourhood in which students between 8 and 12 equipped with GPS's created maps of their neighbourhoods.
I have referred previously to a very interesting site Malaysia Singapore Maps where GPS enthusiasts have created excellent Garmin compatible maps of Malaysia and Singapore. I was in Singapore over the weekend and I can attest that these maps are not only visually excellent but can provide detailed directions from A to B. You need Mapsource, which you normally get with Garmin GPSs.