Malaysian firms are collaborating with companies from the United Kingdom (UK) to offer smart cities solutions, develop innovative smart mobility projects, and help tackle transport challenges, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the recent Virtual UK Smart Cities Mission to Malaysia, Metrobinaya Sdn Bhd and UK-based Interactive Coventry Ltd announced a partnership to provide smart cities solutions to the Malaysian market.
This collaboration is expected to yield a game-changing smart cities solution in Malaysia for forecasting and managing flash urban flooding.
British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay is optimistic about the UK smart cities offering and the potential for more collaborations.
“Smart cities development and technology is a new growth area in UK-Malaysia bilateral trade. The UK offers world-class expertise and technology in smart cities development. Through the Virtual UK Smart Cities Mission, we want to turn the enthusiasm from governments and businesses into real opportunities for both countries to collaborate in smart cities development,” he said in a statement.
The West Midlands Combined Authority in the UK and the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) in Johor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to share knowledge, ideas, and lessons learned in urban and transportation planning.
Through the Global Future Cities Programme, the UK is also assisting Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and Melaka in developing smart and sustainable mobility systems (GFCP).
Iskandar Malaysia, located across the causeway from Singapore, is experiencing rapid population growth, with a population of approximately three million expected by 2025. This increase is expected to create a slew of transportation issues that will have an impact on the Iskandar community’s socioeconomic and environmental well-being.
The Smart Integrated Mobility Management System (SIMMS), which is being developed with support from the UK Prosperity Fund Future Cities Programme, is being developed by IRDA, the authority in charge of planning, facilitating and promoting Iskandar Malaysia.
SIMMS is envisioned as a smart technology-based system that will integrate static and real-time data from various sources. Geographic Information System (GIS) data on land use, building locations, and demographic census data, for example, will be overlaid with transportation data such as road networks, bus routes, and timetables, and traffic flow data to create a visual representation of mobility conditions at any given time.
With an integrated system like SIMMS, traffic in congested areas can be diverted to less-used roads, increasing the capacity and efficiency of road networks.
Melaka, a historic Malaysian city with a population of nearly a million people, is also receiving assistance from the GFCP.
The city centre was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008. Because of its appeal to domestic and international tourists, the city is experiencing rapid growth as well as traffic congestion issues due to low public transportation ridership and high use of private vehicles.
To address the issues, the programme will implement two interventions that will improve connectivity to and from the city’s Heritage Area, as well as the mobility network within the Heritage Area.
The Virtual UK Smart Cities Mission was organised by the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and the UK Department for International Trade in collaboration with several key Malaysian ministries.
More than 600 people from Malaysia and the UK participated in the three-day event, representing both the government and the private sector.
Dr. Wee Ka Siong, Minister of Transport, who spoke on the final day, shared his vision for smart cities, stating that transportation is an essential component of the initiative.
He said that in accordance with the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept, the public will be able to optimise their travel using a real-time journey planner that integrates all modes of transportation.
Wee also said that land public transportation systems must adopt and embrace the key components of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR.40), namely Artificial Intelligence, automation, the internet of things, Big Data Analytics, and cloud computing, to achieve high efficiency and quality of services, homogeneity of services, and robust safety standards.
In turn, transportation operators and related service providers would require big data to plan and improve their services.
According to Wee, intelligent Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communications will improve traffic management in the future.
“Smart land public transportation system will have huge roles to play to support the country’s sustainable growth and development, especially in the next five to 10 years, when the country economically and socially recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.