Kuala Lumpur - REKA, a local R&D powerhouse, is taking their partnership with Murata, a Japanese electronics manufacturer to new heights, joining forces to develop sustainable smart and data-driven cities across Southeast Asia.
This ambitious project could ultimately improve the quality of life for the estimated 300 million Southeast Asians who live in urban areas. The collaboration is also expected to facilitate widespread use of autonomous vehicles in Malaysia.
The first phase will see traffic counters installed across Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. REKA will focus on collating and processing the data received to assist in developing the various sub-goals of the project. Phase two of the project, will see similar plans rolled out in Vietnam and The Philippines.
The traffic counters utilise LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology that is 25% more effective than using a surveillance camera whilst also maintaining road user privacy. Leveraging this technology, the system is able to monitor regional travel accurately, calculating per lane data such as the count, classification, flow direction, and speed of moving vehicles in each lane.
The sensors can also gather information and data that can be utilised to disaster prevention, and in formulating outdoor advertising strategies.
Commenting on the partnership, Haziq Faris, CEO of REKA says: “The industry is rapidly adopting autonomous driving systems especially within smart cities and we are striving to reduce the digital gap by localising this technology.
"As project partners with Murata, we are greatly optimistic that this is the first step in establishing smart cities that will lead to continuous improvements to our standards of living, as well as pave the way for the emergence of holistic smart cities here in Malaysia.
"The data collected as a part of this partnership will enable us to have better control on traffic light automation, change frequency as well as better intelligence for autonomous vehicles.”
The use of the traffic counters will help provide the authorities with accurate and consistently updated information on the commuting and driving patterns of residents in the Southeast Asian region.
This data will then be able to assist local authorities in implementing better traffic planning and road improvements, lessening the traffic congestion that many motorists face at toll booths or densely populated areas.
This can lead to knock on effects boosting overall national productivity, the economy and, whilst also safeguarding the environment.
Commenting on the technology from an environmental standpoint, Haziq says, “The traffic counters and the data derived from them will ease traffic congestion which will directly aid in the region’s environmental goals of reducing overall carbon footprint.
"This also comes in line with the global level goals set in the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) specifically, reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and to keep global warming below +1.5 °C.”
Additionally, the technology also has the capacity to gather data on the weather and surrounding environment through its sensors.
It can potentially detect the possibility of flooding and other natural disasters which in turn can help warn residents in advance about unnatural weather, while also aiding state meteorological agencies in making more informed decisions on preventing disasters such as flooding that affected residents in Malaysia, mainly Kuala Lumpur and Selangor towards the end of 2021.
Businesses and organisations also stand to benefit from these sensors, as the data collected on traffic density can help advertisers identify the most strategic locations to target for high visibility on their billboards and display ads.
Traffic sensors have already been installed in Malaysia as a part of the rollout. These are located in Jalan Kuching and LDP, with more to be installed on the federal highway soon. These sensors are used for the out-of-home vehicle monitoring that is currently being utilised to measure the data and expand the metrics of physical advertising.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, 35 sensors have been installed in 18 locations around Jakarta, Bali and Semarang with the purpose of managing traffic congestion. These sensors also have been monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels which can be used during public events such as Jakarta's Car Free Day.
The traffic sensors were also installed in Thailand for the use of Bangkok local authorities and local billboard advertisers. Currently there are 14 sensors in Bangkok that collect traffic data in busy areas for the local city council and billboard advertisers as well as paving the way for smart city development while measuring the audience for the media.
Since 2019, REKA and Murata have nurtured a successful collaborative partnership that led to the introduction of Murata’s traffic monitoring technology.. Prior to the launch of this technology in Malaysia, the traffic counting project has successfully participated in similar projects in other Southeast Asian countries that helps to elevate local communities.
A pilot phase programme in Malaysia for the traffic sensors was also rolled out between 2019 and 2021. The success of said pilot programme has directly facilitated the larger scale roll out this time around.