Alibaba and Sena to develop smart traffic solution to ease congestion

Sena Traffic Systems managing director Tan Boon Hock (second from left) and Alibaba Group vice-president Selina Yuan (second from right) placing their palms to mark the start of the collaboration between the two companies to develop a smart traffic management system in Malaysia. With them are (from left) MDEC chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng, Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s deputy secretary-general Tan Chuan Ou and MDEC chief executive officer Surina Syukri.

KUALA LUMPUR: Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, will collaborate with a local smart traffic system controller to build a smart traffic management system in Malaysia.

Utilising cloud empowered smart technologies, the system, to be developed with Sena Traffic Systems (Sena), will digitally transform the traffic management infrastructure in the city and has the potential to reduce travel time by 12%.

Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International president Selina Yuan said the smart traffic solution will constantly learn and adapt to the changing traffic environment.

“This will make the traffic management system a smart learning platform and no longer just an analytic tool.

“The smart traffic solution and technology have the potential to improve the traffic situation not just in Malaysia, but also in the Asean region,” she said in her speech marking the start of the collaboration.

Yuan said the collaboration will also see Alibaba continue to empower all Malaysian stakeholders, in both the public and private sectors, with cloud-empowered technology to enhance efficiency, advance innovation and succeed in the digital age.

As for Sena’s managing director Tan Boon Hock, he was of the view that the collaboration with Alibaba Cloud will enable an even better and more complete solution to solve traffic congestion in urban landscapes.

“We are eager to move rapidly beyond our current development plans for smart traffic and are already looking at exploring developments in several intelligent digital platforms for urban management systems, such as street furniture controllers, internet of things (IoT) and smart city enterprise management, together with Alibaba Cloud,” he said.

Alibaba Cloud will provide its City Brain solution, cloud computing resources and talent development programs through the collaboration.

Sena, meanwhile, will be responsible for the design and development of traffic light systems, and implementation of its patented algorithm for the city traffic light system.

A demonstration was also held at the event, showcasing the capabilities essential for traffic management, including incident detection, congestion detection, vehicle counting, vehicle classification, traffic light optimisation and traffic simulation.

In a press conference later, Sena technical adviser Leong Wei Mun, when asked on when the first phase of the system is expected to roll out, said they had only just started the collaboration.

“We have (already) tried the proof of concept. It was successful.

“We are currently laying the foundation to identify critical locations. We’ll then progressively discuss with the authorities — in this case, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) — to see how to expand the program to reduce congestion time,” he said.

On how this would benefit the public, as there appeared to be some overlap with existing applications such as Waze, Leong said when it came to Waze, the situation is fixed and one could not do anything about it.

“After integrating with cloud and using artificial intelligence (AI), road users will be able to gain time efficiency.

“It will shorten the time we are caught in a jam as the system is able to influence timing to shorten the delay,” he said.

On why Alibaba had been chosen for the collaboration and not other existing services, Tan said this was because they had a cloud system which was very powerful.

“With the Alibaba cloud, since they use cameras, it can give us better data and better efficiency,” he said.

Leong said in the process of developing the proof of concept with Alibaba, Sena found it had good chemistry and synergy with them.

“We have good chemistry and synergy with Alibaba. They have already experimented with many traffic solutions in China, and they can help us improve what we want to do,” he said.

As for Yuan, she said Alibaba decided to work with Sena out of appreciation for local technology, and that the group regarded Malaysia as a strategic partner.

“It complies with our mission to help local business and small and medium enterprises to grow.

“That’s why we are willing to open our technology, our platform and our cloud, and do better with Sena to benefit local enterprises and local technology,” she added.