Credit: Jason Thien ( CC BY 2.0 (

Credit: Jason Thien ( CC BY 2.0 (

Malaysia City Brain initiative to use real-time, anonymised traffic data from Grab

The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with southeast Asia’s leading ride hailing company, Grab, for the development of the Malaysia City Brain initiative.

The Malaysia City Brain project was first announced in January 2018, to use big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to help the fast-growing city better manage its urban transportation needs. The key players involved in Malaysia City Brain are MDEC, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL or Kuala Lumpur City Hall), and Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group.

At the time, it was revealed that DBKL is providing access to camera live feeds, traffic light information as well as information on any events and road work, while MDEC is leading the data analytics and project management for the City Brain. Alibaba Cloud is the platform provider and subject matter expert. 

A 2015 World Bank report estimated that about five million people get stuck in the Klang Valley traffic every day. They spend 250 million hours a year stuck in traffic, costing the country 1.1 to 2.2 percent of its GDP in 2014. This has likely become even more costly in the years since.

Under this new partnership, Grab’s real-time, anonymised traffic data, including traffic speeds and travel times for popular Kuala Lumpur routes will be shared. This will be coupled with existing traffic sources like video feeds from 500 CCTV cameras and 300 traffic lights under Kuala Lumpur City Hall; social media feeds and traffic information from local traffic agencies and Government sources to provide city planners a more comprehensive view of conditions on the roads.

The data will be processed using cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technologies to identify potential traffic challenges, develop better predictive modeling, and more efficient management of city traffic in real time.

“Grab’s core mission is to help provide safe, efficient, convenient and affordable mobility solutions to cities in like Kuala Lumpur. By working with strategic partners like MDEC and the Government of Malaysia, we can offer the Malaysia City Brain effort our expertise from across the region, along with the vast anonymised data that is generated daily by our drivers. This will help provide urban planners and traffic managers greater success in resolving key transportation issues, enhance emergency services response times, and reduce congestion. It also allows better insights in addressing the growing transportation demands and urban transport planning of one of the leading digitally enabled capital cities in South East Asia,” said Sean Goh, Country Head of Grab Malaysia.

According to the Moving SEA Together report, Grab influences the travel decisions of 2.5 million Southeast Asians daily. As Malaysia and Southeast Asia’s largest transport network, it is a key source for efficient and accurate data that represents real drivers and city dwellers in everyday conditions.

 “We are delighted that Grab is working with us to further build on the success of Malaysia City Brain, particularly as this high impact initiative to catalyse the nation’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem is vitally dependent on the richness and variety of its data sources. No two cities are the same, and the sharing of such data resources by Grab will also help our city planners to better understand the unique transportation needs of each city and neighbourhood. This will helping us to better deal with using the roads more effectively in real time, and it will gradually help us to improve our daily Quality of Life Index: Working together, we will continue to move Malaysia ahead!” said Dr Karl Ng Kah Hou, Director of Data Economy at MDEC.

Grab has been involved previous in various Malaysian public-private initiatives. This includes a collaboration between Malaysia SEA games Organising Committee (MASOC) and Grab during the 2017 SEA Games. The collaboration achieved its objective of mitigating traffic congestion

In April 2017, the OpenTraffic initiative was launched in Malaysia by MDEC, Grab, and the World Bank Group. The initiative was intended to provide traffic data from Grab’s GPS data streams to Malaysia’s traffic management agencies and city planners.

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