The yearly State of the Map Asia (SotM Asia) conference started on November 16–18, 2023, in the center of bustling Bangkok, Thailand. It quickly became a hub for policymakers, developers, GIS enthusiasts, and geospatial specialists across Asia. This event, which took place at Srinakharinwirot University, provided a platform for exchanging ideas, expertise, and experiences among members of the larger open mapping community while showcasing the exciting advancements in OpenStreetMap (OSM). SotM Asia 2023 was a collaborative effort between the OpenStreetMap Asian community, the local community in Thailand, and the co-organizers of FOSS4G Thailand 2023. Together, they organized an inclusive event to transcend borders and foster a shared purpose among attendees. In four separate conference rooms—the Main Auditorium, Track A, Track B, and Track C — a total of twenty-five speakers shared their perspectives. Session topics ranged widely, exploring the relevance of open mapping and its effects on various sectors such as technology, development, and humanitarian work. For a detailed overview of the scheduled sessions, please refer to https://2023.foss4g.in.th.
With a focus on the expanding significance of open mapping and its impact on diverse industries, from technology and development to humanitarian efforts, the conference drew more than 200 participants from various corners of Asia. Attendees converged at SotM Asia and FOSS4G Thailand 2023 to showcase their projects, expand networks among geospatial experts, and gain insights into open-source geospatial tools and open mapping practices. Among the participants was Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI), a group dedicated to promoting community involvement in OpenStreetMap mapping initiatives in Indonesia.
The Inaugural Day of State of the Map Asia and FOSS4G Thailand 2023 (State of the Map Asia Facebook Page, 2023)
On the inaugural day, they featured four keynote speakers, each contributing unique perspectives on the transformative potential of geospatial data. Representing diverse backgrounds, the speakers hailed from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission of Thailand, a major sponsor; the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, an event organizer; the Open Culture Foundation; and the Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC). Their presentations delved into the advantages of integrating geospatial data across various sectors, emphasizing its role in supporting government projects. The insights gained from these sessions underscored the potential for POI to explore the integration of open mapping and open data with government datasets, offering avenues for enhancing the quality of OpenStreetMap data.
In the next session, POI participated in a presentation about a collaborative project with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) through the Road Mapping Meta project spanning from 2017 to 2023, focusing on road mapping in eight countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Nepal. Iko, the Data Quality Lead of POI, presents this presentation. The ambitious initiative aimed to enhance road data quality across these nations, involving 25 trained mappers in various activities such as remote road mapping, ground truth surveying, and employing tools like Overpass API, OSMCha, JOSM, MapRoulette, Mapilary, Kartaview, Google Classroom, and Google Sheets. The meticulous quality control process, labeled “Monday Validation,” addressed many aspects, from tags and relations to nodes, ways, and areas. The results showcased a remarkable accomplishment – 97.75% of the 26,730 tasks provided were fixed entirely. This project exhibited the efficacy of collaborative mapping and revealed country-specific focuses on errors, highlighting the diverse challenges each region faces. This presentation earned a compliment from an OpenStreetMap local community of the Philippines that this validation method is advantageous to validate the contributors’ works in the Philippines.
Iko, POI’s Data Quality Lead, shared his work findings that collaborated with HOT – Meta
Zainab, one of the SotM Asia 2023 travel grantees and Open Innovation Specialist for POI, delivered an additional presentation on behalf of POI. In addition to delivering her research presentation, she actively participated in a panel discussion about Governance in Open Communities. Amidst the panel discourse, she expressed her viewpoint that effective governance in open communities demands collaboration and transparency, enabling individuals to participate actively in the mapping process. Following the panel discussion, she delivered her research findings, which utilized ISO 19157 standards to compare the quality of non-slum and slum areas in Jakarta, following the panel discussion. Despite the obstacles caused by unclear satellite imagery in economically disadvantaged regions, her research findings show the quantity of active contributors is greater in slum areas compared to non-slum areas. These results encourage the ongoing endeavors to enhance data in slum areas.
Zainab, POI’s Open Innovation Specialist, presented her results regarding the quality of OpenStreetMap data in slum areas during her talk (right) and panel discussion (left). State of the Map Asia Facebook Page, 2023
Surprisingly, amidst POI’s participation in talks and discussions, they were acknowledged POI as the Community of the Year in Asia, alongside Mapbuds Nepal. Expressing deep gratitude, POI pledged to intensify efforts to promote open geospatial data for sustainable development, aligning with their overarching vision. The acknowledgment extended beyond POI to appreciate the dedication of the OpenStreetMap Asian community, the local community in Thailand, and FOSS4G Thailand 2023 co-organizers for their commitment to an inclusive and insightful event.
Participants from FOSS4G Thailand 2023 and State of the Map Asia posed for a snapshot (State of the Map Asia Facebook Page)
It is evident that the State of the Map Asia 2023 has not ended but has started a continuous advancement process when POI thinks back on these rich experiences. The vitality of open mapping indicates a bright future, the commitment of communities, and the fortitude in facing difficulties. The conference serves as an example of this collaborative and exploratory mindset, which acts as a compass to direct us on our open mapping path. The maps may evolve, but their stories will undoubtedly shape the landscape of geospatial innovation for years to come.