Malaysia to leverage on AI for better urban planning

Alibaba Cloud City Brain

Earlier this week Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the lead agency for Digital Economy, together with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), also known as Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, announced their collaboration to catalyse Malaysia’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem through the introduction of Malaysia City Brain. The announcement was in line with Malaysia’s commitment to develop the National AI Framework, as announced by Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, in 2017.

“As a digital economy nation, Malaysia should embrace AI revolution and make the most of the data economy. The collaboration with DBKL and Alibaba Cloud is another leap towards digitising Malaysia, where knowledge-sharing and the crossover of best practices transpire. As we set our sights on the future, we are excited about the prospects this partnership will bring to our community, benefiting millions of Malaysians,” said Datuk Yasmin Mahmood, CEO, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).


“The introduction of Malaysia City Brain is just the beginning. MDEC will continue to work on selected high-profile AI initiatives and simultaneously develop the National AI Framework,” she further added.

Deemed as one of the most disruptive technologies, AI is believed to be a paradigm-shifting development that will have significant implications for our society and economy. Today, AI is already being used in industries such as healthcare, business, marketing and transportation management. Malaysia City Brain is an example of the use of AI in city operations. The programme offers a comprehensive suite of acquisition, integration, and analysis of big and heterogeneous data generated by a diversity of sources in urban spaces through video and image recognition, data mining and machine learning technology. With this, city council and urban planners will be able to make better decisions for the community.

“Cloud computing, data technology and AI has become fundamental tools for all companies and organisations to operate effectively. Building on this partnership, we are happy to see Malaysia become the first country outside of China to adopt the City Brain. Through the program, we aim to empower all Malaysian stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, with the tools to enhance efficiency, advance in innovation and to succeed in the digital age. For Alibaba Cloud, this is the true meaning of inclusive technology,” said Simon Hu, President of Alibaba Cloud.

He added “Malaysia remains as one of our key investment market. We are happy to be part of the nation’s AI ecosystem growth. This collaboration signifies our confidence in the country’s vision for the National AI Framework and it solidifies our longstanding partnership with Malaysia”.

In this first phase of the implementation, Malaysia City Brain will be used in traffic management to improve mobility in the city. With its massive cloud computing and data processing capabilities, the City Brain can optimise the flow of vehicles and traffic signals by calculating the time to reach intersections. It will also be able to generate structured summaries of data, such as traffic volume and speed according to lanes, which can be used to facilitate other tasks including incident detection.

“At DBKL, our main priorities have always been to continuously provide improved services to our communities and businesses. Without a doubt, traffic congestion is one of the major challenges for a high-performing district like Kuala Lumpur. Through the advanced AI technology of the Malaysia City Brain, we will be able to offer real-life information and intelligent solutions to the people of Kuala Lumpur,” said Tan Sri Hj. Mhd. Amin Nordin Abd. Aziz, the Kuala Lumpur Mayor.

A three-fold outcome is expected from the program, which includes analysis of traffic conditions, optimisation of traffic signals and detection of accidents or traffic incidents. Malaysia City Brain will begin with a base of 382 cameras feeds and input from 281 traffic light junctions, concentrated within central Kuala Lumpur.

Nurturing AI Talent in Malaysia

Malaysia City Brain initiative marks a momentous milestone for ASEAN’s AI ecosystem. This initiative will not only attract and nurture world-class AI talent, but will also pave the way for co-creation among other ASEAN nations. Malaysia City Brain is an open platform, which will give businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, educational and research institutions the opportunity to access and leverage on the AI tools, and ultimately drive advance innovations.

In August 2017, Malaysia embarked on a proof of concept for Malaysia City Brain, in partnership with ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange (ADAX). The partnership gave four high-calibre Malaysian students from ADAX’s Data Star program the opportunity to experience the implementation of the Malaysia City Brain.

At the same event, Alibaba Cloud also announced the Malaysia Tianchi Big Data Program, a big data crowd intelligence platform, which brings together global data experts to collaborate and compete in developing solutions for real world problems. Supported by MDEC, the initiative aims to incubate 1,000 data scientists and 300 start-ups in Malaysia by facilitating the use of world class data intelligence technology through Alibaba Cloud’s cloud computing infrastructure and artificial intelligence capabilities.

The Malaysia Tianchi Big Data Programme will be integrated into Alibaba Cloud’s Tianchi global community, which already boasts over 120,000 developers and 2,700 academic institutes and businesses from 77 countries and regions. By participating in these big data competitions, Malaysian experts will compete with, and learn from, counterparts across the globe to develop best-in-class data technology, keeping Malaysia at the forefront of the global digital economy.