Welcome to the Asian century

Ravi Gupta Once again we are here with Map Asia. And this definitely is an appropriate time to hold it. I say this based upon two significant assumptions. Firstly, the time is apt when most Asian economies are bouncing back in a situation of otherwise global downslide. Trade and policies have had positive effects on most countries in the region in the recent past. Countries such as India and China are embarking upon more economic co-operation within the region. Secondly, Asia, after earlier being the manufacturing and computer hardware destination of the globe, is now fast emerging as a global software destination. And Asians are increasingly being recognised for the brains besides the brawn.

While in the past, this region mostly looked at the West for business, innovation and tourism, now the situation is trotting a different path. While the West is grappling with rising unemployment, the Asian countries are addressing issues of a different shade – capacity building to meet the demand of high skilled manpower. There are visible signs of movement towards the formation of major economic and political blocks in the region. The recent signing of the Bali Concord II, between leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations aiming at collaborative arrangements by 2020, similar to the European-style economic community exemplifies this perfectly. The landmark accord, envisions a single market eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers within an economic grouping. Another simple indication was the Cancun WTO forum, where India and China played significant roles in not letting the US-Europe push for the cessation of agriculture subsidies in developing regions.

We as a geo-informatics community should see the fallouts of these economic and political trends on us. One needs to read and see between the lines. There will be a greater presence of most of the big GIS vendors in the region, which should help in faster progress of the GI technologies. And this has already started. Further, the trend of consumption in tandem with production is emerging. Companies like Intergraph, Autodesk, Oracle are already showing the trend of shifting some of their software development here, which is most likely to grow more. The expansion of the geoinformatics market and related software development should also give rise to new Asian geoinformatics companies, which may start with micro-niche specialisation and slowly emerge into bigger markets of their own. It is now that we hope to see a more strong, a more dynamic, a more enabled and integrated Asia.

Truly, what a time to be an Asian!

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