Malaysia can be data hub of the region, says expert

(From left) Prof Willem Smit of Asia School of Business, head of Axiata Analytics Centre Pedro Uria Recio and TM Forum global ambassador Prof Paul Morrissey.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has the capability of becoming the data hub of the region, according to a data expert.

The number of data professionals in Malaysia, said Axiata analytic centre head Pedro Uria Recio, is 11 data scientists for every billion dollar of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) who have machine learning skills.

Malaysia’s GDP last year was estimated at US$354.35 billion.

“Compared to Thailand, they have eight (for every US$1 billion of GDP) and Indonesia has three. In the US and the UK, they have 15 and 16, respectively, so we are not that far behind,” he said.

“One of the good things about Malaysia in comparison to other countries nearby is that we have a number of universities providing masters and degree courses in data science,” he said at a media conference to announce details on Urbanlytics – a competition for data enthusiasts, professionals and students to study anonymous real-life data and derive business models based on their study.

He said Urbanlytics aims to help Malaysia achieve a data-driven society by encouraging its participants to find viable business models based on the analysis of viable data.

This data can also be used to develop smart solutions in a number of applications.

Prof Paul Morrissey, a global ambassador at TM Forum, a worldwide association that drives digital transformation, gave an example of how data plays a major role in cities.

He said residents in a German city did not believe the official air pollution figures.

The residents, he said, believed the figures were wrong as they were being measured up to 5m in the air.

“They came up with a mobile device for people to measure air quality at the appropriate level. This device allowed people who walked their children to school to tell which road will be best to use.

“That data is subscribed by people who are on board the project. That can be an example on how data can be used to solve a problem,” he said.

Morrissey said awareness on the importance of data should be taught to people as they grow up.

“It should be part of their curriculum,” he said.

It was previously reported that Malaysians were not fully aware of the importance of data ownership.

According to a survey conducted by global pollsters Ipsos, 61% of respondents use the same password and PINs for the same account, which cybersecurity professionals strongly advise against.

The survey found that important questions like “what is personal data”, “who owns and governs my data” and “how can my data be used” are not really a concern for Malaysians, with 83% of the respondents saying it is the government’s responsibility.