New OpenTraffic data-sharing platform launched in Malaysia

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Southeast Asia’s leading ride hailing technology company, Grab, and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), together with the World Bank Group, have launched the OpenTraffic initiative in Malaysia, which aims to provide traffic information from Grab’s GPS data streams to address congestion and improve road safety in the country’s major cities.

OpenTraffic will provide Malaysia’s traffic management agencies and city planners with access to an open dataset to better manage traffic flow and make investment decisions on local transport infrastructure. Provided at no cost to governments via an open data license, OpenTraffic translates Grab drivers’ GPS data into anonymized traffic information, to map traffic speeds on roads for analysis of traffic congestion peak patterns and travel times. The platform is designed to assist traffic management agencies with easing traffic flows, particularly within dense urban areas. Local government agencies can use the data to enhance existing traffic management systems, such as optimizing traffic light control and coordination. Easing city congestion during peak hour traffic will help reduce carbon emissions and save commuters’ time.

Malaysia is the second country to gain access to the OpenTraffic platform, with the Philippines the first when it was launched in April 2016. OpenTraffic has enabled the Philippines to make a number of enhancements, including: an improvement in traffic signal times along the primary west-east arterial in Cebu City, without the need for additional infrastructure investment; lower transport costs for commuters; improved quality of travel-time survey work along Manila’s EDSA beltway, the most congested corridor in the country; and evaluation of optimal commuting times for select barangays (districts) in Metro Manila.

As part of its ongoing partnership with the World Bank Group, Grab has also been invited to participate in the Open Transport Partnership (OTP), a global initiative incubated by the World Bank, which is building the foundation for the next generation of public-private data partnerships, facilitating responsible use of private sector big data for the public good. The OTP supports mutually beneficial collaboration on data-driven urban mobility policy and service programs, and also develops the guidance and tools needed to navigate these new partnerships.

“We maintain one of the largest datasets in the region, derived from our drivers’ GPS data across Southeast Asia,” explained Sean Goh, country head of Grab Malaysia. “As the region’s leading ride hailing platform, we want to contribute by sharing our data and working alongside local government agencies to make transport more accessible for the 620 million people in the region. We are certainly excited to participate in the OpenTraffic project to help shape and improve Malaysia’s transport sector.”

Dr Karl Ng, director of the data economy division at MDEC, added, “We are excited that Grab and World Bank has extended the access of the Open Traffic platform and the data generated to the Malaysian agencies. It is only practical for traffic solutions that can impact a nation, to be borne from local data. We hope that initiatives such as this will help in growing and building the technology ecosystem.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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