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IoT to help solve Malaysia’s traffic woes

The practical application of modern technology benefits everyone. When they reportedly promise to ease traffic congestion, in particular, it helps regulators, businesses, and the public breathe a sigh of relief.

In cities like Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, traffic congestion is a part of life that citizens have accepted and, despite the best efforts of regulators, it is a hard problem to solve.

One of the reasons that Indonesia is moving its capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan in Borneo is because of the traffic congestion problem in the city and its resulting impact on the environment.

Malaysia, whose capital Kuala Lumpur has worked with a Chinese tech giant in the past to create an artificial intelligence-based solution. The government has also partnered with local telecommunications giant to develop a smart traffic monitoring solution.

Dubbed the Smart Traffic Analytics & Recognition System (STARS), the solution comprises of traffic-lights that respond to real-time data collected by cameras and sensors.

When broken down into its basic components, STARS leverages the internet of things (IoT) and edge computing in the cameras and sensors to transmit data to the cloud, which then runs complex yet intelligent simulations to control the traffic lights — creating a closed-loop, end-to-end managed IoT system.

STARS has been trialled in parts of the country since 2016, and recently, in a case study, claims to have proved its effectiveness to the government by reducing traffic waiting time along Persiaran Multimedia (the main road in Cyberjaya — a town in Malaysia) by more than 65 per cent.

At peak hours, it would take approximately 32 minutes to drive from one end of Persiaran Multimedia to the other, but it now takes between eight and 11 minutes.

The solution is appreciated by drivers who are able to get from one point to another more quickly and helps local councils a great deal because it not only boosts satisfaction among the public but also helps meet sustainability goals by reducing traffic congestion-related emissions.

In addition, regulators and municipal organizations facilitating the implementation benefit from a reduction in overall operational costs, and support for future traffic optimization and town planning projects.

First launched in 2016, the solution from the local telecommunications giant is now monitoring more than 130 junctions across four municipalities in Cyberjaya (Cyberview), Kelantan (Jabatan Kerja Raya Kelantan), Pengerang (Johor Corporation) and Penang (Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai).

The company believes the solution could ultimately be deployed to approximately 1,800 junctions nationwide across Malaysia.

It was noted that despite the success in its first round, the local telecommunications firm will explore how it can leverage predictive analytics in the future to factor in weather, events and holidays, and up to six months of historical data, to better predict routes that help avoid traffic congestion.

Given the Malaysian government’s intention to stay ahead in the technology era, and the various initiatives it has launched thus far, support for and further interest in Telekom Malaysia’s project comes as no surprise.

In the future, Malaysia and other countries in Asia are expected to benefit heavily from deploying IoT-powered solutions in conjunction with other technologies such as edge and cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, to reduce traffic congestion and make mobility more efficient.

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