Grab, MDEC, World Bank Group Launch OpenTraffic platform to combat local traffic woes
By Digital News Asia April 13, 2017
- Offers access to an open dataset to manage traffic flow, make investment decisions on infrastructure
- Solution Rendezous wins MyTrafficHack to propose traffic solution based on data from OpenTraffic
GRAB, a Southeast Asian ride hailing technology company, and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn Bhd (MDEC) together with the World Bank Group on April 11 launched the OpenTraffic initiative in Malaysia, which provides traffic data from Grab’s GPS data streams to address traffic congestion and improve road safety in major Malaysian cities.
OpenTraffic provides 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 anonymised traffic data, to map traffic speeds on roads for analysing 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 optimising traffic light control and coordination.
“At Grab, we maintain one of the largest datasets in the region derived from our drivers’ GPS data across Southeast Asia. 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,” said Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh.
Faris Hadad-Zervos, country manager for World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia, when introducing the OpenTraffic platform, noted, “By leveraging on big data partnerships and open-source tools, transport agencies in both emerging and advanced economies can address urban mobility challenges more efficiently and effectively.”
Grab and the World Bank Group, with the assistance of MDEC, introduced an early preview of the OpenTraffic dataset and web-based querying platform to 30 representatives from various local enforcement, town planning and council agencies.
“We are proud to work with Grab and World Bank on this initiative as this will give our young local talents the opportunity to showcase their technical skills, capabilities and knowledge,” said MDEC Digital Economy Division director Dr Karl Ng.
“We are excited that Grab and World Bank have extended access to the Open Traffic platform and the data generated to Malaysian agencies. It is only practical for traffic solutions that can impact a nation to be born from local data. We hope that initiatives such as this will help in growing and building the technology ecosystem.”
Success in the Philippines
Malaysia is the second country to gain access to the OpenTraffic platform, with the Philippines being the first when it was launched in April 2016.
OpenTraffic has enabled the Philippines to make a number of enhancements such as an improvement in traffic signal times along the primary west-east arterial in Cebu City without the need for additional infrastructure investment, lower transport cost for commuters and improve the quality of travel time survey work along Manila’s EDSA, the most congested corridor in the country, as well as evaluate optimal commuting times for select barangays 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.
OTP supports mutually beneficial collaboration on data-driven urban mobility policy and service programmes and also develops the guidance and tools needed to navigate these new partnerships.
MyTrafficHack, leveraging on data for the next traffic solution
As part of the OpenTraffic launch, Grab and MDEC together with the support of the World Bank Group and open source platforms, Carto and Mapillary, organised the 24-hour MyTrafficHack at the Asean Data Analytics eXchange hub to encourage the creative use of ICT, digital media, and road data to address local transport and traffic issues such as effective emergency response during accidents and ideas for better transport policy planning.
MyTrafficHack which took place over the weekend on April 8 saw over 80 participants from more than 20 teams take part to propose a variety of ideas with the top five invited back to present their ideas during the official launch of Grab and MDEC’s OpenTraffic partnership.
The winning solution, Rendezous by Ng Kok Kwan which took home RM9,000 was based on the idea of using machine learning to process OpenTraffic data to help visualise insights to decision-makers and road users.
Second and third prize went to Team S.I (Joel Lee Chee Choong, Wee Vivien, Kong Ka Weng, and Tey Su Anne) for their App TravelSafe. Their idea integrates a number of variables that help a driver take into account his/her driving risk for each route at various times. Therefore, the end result is a driving route that factors in time, money (fare) and the safety of the ride.
The third prize went to Team Ditto (Kevin Loh Khai Khoon and Ho Chin Hee) for their idea App Hazard Reported which is a chatbot that allows commuters to report hazards on the road. Reports will be prioritised based on severity and impact on the traffic.
The second and third placed winners took home RM6,000 and RM3,000 respectively. Both first and second winners also secured an automatic entry into MDEC’s National Big App Challenge, while all three teams received a ‘personal’ Carto account valid for a year.
Goh, at the event shared that this is a tremendous step into the future of transport for Malaysia. “We are growing beyond just being a transport hailing service, and as a homegrown company, we want to be proactive in making a change in our community to increase access to safe transport and improve the lives of our drivers.
“It is exciting to see these young passionate brilliant minds take traffic data to produce solutions for real traffic challenges with the hopes of making life easier for those around them. We are glad to partner with the likes of MDEC, World Bank, Carto, Mapillary and Tuxuri to facilitate this programme and we look forward to more such opportunities with them,” he added.