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Alibaba Cloud to tackle Malaysia’s traffic woes with AI

Chinese cloud service provider Alibaba will use its City Brain artificial intelligence platform to analyse data from camera feeds and traffic junctions in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur

Chinese cloud computing bigwig Alibaba Cloud has teamed up with Malaysia’s government to roll out an Artificial intelligence (AI) platform aimed at easing Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic congestion.

Dubbed Malaysia City Brain, the platform will harness Alibaba Cloud’s AI capabilities such as video and image recognition, data mining and machine learning, to analyse massive amounts of real-time data generated by 382 camera feeds and 281 traffic light junctions in the capital city.

City Brain, which made its debut in Alibaba’s home city of Hangzhou in September 2016, can also generate structured summaries of data, such as traffic volume and speed in particular lanes, which can be used to facilitate other tasks including incident detection.

By linking up with urban management systems – including emergency dispatch, ambulance call, traffic command and traffic light control – the platform is expected to help city officials optimise Kuala Lumpur’s traffic flow and traffic signals, as well as identify the quickest routes that emergency vehicles can take to avoid gridlock traffic.

In August 2017, four high-calibre Malaysian students from the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange programme were given the opportunity to experience the implementation of Malaysia City Brain during a proof-of-concept project.

Startups, entrepreneurs, universities and research institutions will also have the opportunity to take advantage of City Brain’s artificial intelligence tools in future as the platform’s functionality expands.

Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) tasked with driving the country’s digital initiatives, said the City Brain partnership with Alibaba marks the beginning of efforts to develop a national AI framework and other high-profile AI initiatives.

Malaysia remains as one of Alibaba’s key overseas markets. Apart from setting up an electronic trading platform and datacentre in the country in 2017, Alibaba also worked with MDEC to set up a digital free trade zone (DFTZ) located near Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Read more about IT in Malaysia

  • Tipped as Malaysia's Silicon Valley, the Cyberjaya township will pilot a slew of smart city projects, including e-payments and mobile bus ticketing.
  • The personal data of more than 46 million mobile phone users in Malaysia was reportedly leaked online in possibly the biggest data breach in the Southeast Asian country.
  • There is no limit to what women can achieve in Malaysia’s IT industry, as a small but growing group of prominent women IT leaders in the country has found.
  • Organisations in Malaysia are facing tough competition to attract the right skills to drive their IT strategies.

Huawei is the other major Chinese technology company that has been making inroads in Malaysia. In September 2017, Mimos, Malaysia’s national research and development centre for information and communications technology signed a deal with Huawei to develop public safety and smart city projects, including the use of advanced video analytics and facial recognition technology.

In November 2017, Malaysia’s cyber security agency, CyberSecurity Malaysia, said it will establish a joint steering committee with Huawei that will meet twice a year to discuss issues such as cyber security standards and approaches in fending off cyber threats. A taskforce from both organisations will be tasked to execute all decisions made by the committee.

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