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Real-Time Data From Grab and World Bank Helps Philippine Government Improve Traffic Management in Major Cities

Grab, The World Bank, and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) launched today the OpenTraffic initiative, which will address traffic congestion and road safety challenges. Traffic management agencies and city planners will soon have access to real-time data to better manage traffic […]

Grab, The World Bank, and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) launched today the OpenTraffic initiative, which will address traffic congestion and road safety challenges.

Traffic management agencies and city planners will soon have access to real-time data to better manage traffic flows on the streets of Cebu City and Metro Manila.

Grab is the leading ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia and operates in 30 cities across six countries – Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Grab and the World Bank have been developing free, open-source tools that translate Grab’s voluminous driver GPS data into anonymized traffic statistics, including speeds, flows, and intersection delays. These statistics power big data open source tools such as OpenTraffic, for analysing traffic speeds and flows, and DRIVER, for identifying road incident blackspots and improving emergency response timing. Grab and the World Bank plan to make OpenTraffic available to other Southeast Asian city governments in the near future.

“Using big data is one of the potential solutions to the challenges faced by our transport systems. Through this we can provide accurate, real-time information that can help alleviate traffic congestion and improve road safety,” said DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya.

Last month, the World Bank and DOTC helped train more than 200 government staff from the agency, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Cebu City Transportation Office on the use of the OpenTraffic platform.

“We are proud to collaborate with the DOTC and World Bank on the OpenTraffic program to help address traffic congestion along Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares, making local public transportation systems safe and accessible for commuters,” said Poch Ceballos, Head of GrabTaxi, Grab Philippines. “We share a common objective of using big data to make critical decisions about traffic and infrastructure management. With Grab’s network of drivers travelling across Philippine cities every day, there is a rich real-time GPS dataset now readily available to DOTC as our public service.”

In the near future, traffic statistics derived through OpenTraffic will be fed into another application called “DRIVER” or Data for Road Incident Visualization, Evaluation, and Reporting for road incident recording and analysis. This application, developed by the World Bank, will help engineering units to prioritize crash-prone areas for interventions and improve emergency response.

“By leveraging advances in open-software and big data collaborations with companies like Grab, transport managers and city planners can have access to the most advanced congestion management analytical tools available,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director.

Commuters and drivers in Metro Manila may look forward to traffic improvements based on studies that will be conducted during the pilot, including:

  • Peak hour analysis along key corridors – this can help in designing effective travel demand management policies;
  • Travel time reliability – with this initiative, the Philippines will be able to quantify urban travel time reliability for use as a benchmark for making improvements;
  • Corridor vulnerability to inclement weather or traffic incidents – by analyzing traffic flows due to these factors, the DoTC can begin designing flexible routing schemes; and
  • Identification of road incident blackspots – with OpenTraffic data integrated with the DRIVER platform, agencies like DPWH and local engineering departments can identify and prioritize high-incidence areas for interventions and improvement.

“Through this initiative, the Philippines will leapfrog traditional approaches to road safety, traffic management, and planning,” said Holly Krambeck, World Bank Senior Transportation Specialist. “The country is among the pioneers in the region and the Bank is honored to work with the Philippines to lead this initiative.”

In addition to World Bank support, grant funding for the development of the OpenTraffic and DRIVER open source platforms has been provided by the Korean Green Growth Trust Fund. This fund helps World Bank Group client countries with knowledge to plan and implement green growth strategies, initiatives, and investments.

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