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Understanding Big Data to Unlock the Future of Smarter Transportation

  • Grab is one of the ride-hailing platforms with the largest set data, including insights gained from completed rides in Southeast Asia.
  • A comprehensive understanding, and the investment to enhance the capabilities to interpret insights is essential to systematically solve traffic congestion.
  • The success in utilizing big data to improve the transportation system and solve traffic congestion in Southeast Asia is due to Grab’s partnership with governments, academic and industry partners in each country.

In today’s world, big data is used to leverage the competitiveness in many industries. However, utilizing data that could potentially solve real-life issues still relies on many other important factors. This is especially true when you want to utilize big data collected from a ride-hailing application to improve a transportation system and solve traffic congestion.

To utilize big data collected from a ride-hailing application to improve a transportation system and solve traffic congestion effectively, data from a single country or a handful of information is too small to provide any useful insights. However, just having the data is not enough, it needs to invest in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to be able to turn that data into actionable, useful insight. Only accurate information can be used by the government in order to maximize a country’s budget in the most beneficial way.

In Southeast Asia, Grab is region’s number 1 Online-to-Offline (O2O) platforms who is capable of using big data to improve the transportation system for many reasons:

I. Large amount of data including insights gained from facilitated rides

  • Grab is one of the ride-hailing platforms with the largest database in Southeast Asia. Information of this scale is collected over the course of 6 years of service in the region, and almost 5 years of operating in Thailand.
  • Grab has the expertise in processing big data from over 2 billion rides and performing comprehensive analysis on traffic conditions, user behavior and travel routes.
  • Data of this scale allows Grab to fully grasp user behavior in Thailand and Southeast Asia, like no others. The insights enable Grab to improve the traffic condition in the region and create the opportunity to grow and develop into smart cities.
  • From 2 billion rides facilitated across 235 cities, people all over Southeast Asia use Grab to commute to work, go to school, order their lunch and deliver their packages. This provides Grab with accumulated data of transportation of the future of over 3 petabytes. The size is equivalent to almost 40 years of HD-TV video or close to 690,000 DVDs. Everyday Grab processes about 20 terabytes of data. This is why Grab has the unparalleled insight to provide more tailored solutions to the challenges of each country’s infrastructure and traffic conditions.

II. Best-in-class technology to process big data

  • Aside from enormous sets of data, a comprehensive understanding of the collected data, as well as the investment to enhance the insight gained is essential to systematically solve traffic congestion. This is where data science, AI and machine learning come to the rescue and turn big data into user insights. It does not only help secure a safer, more convenient and more personalized experience to consumers, but it can also be utilized in planning and tackling larger scale challenge like the region’s traffic congestion.
  • Recently, Grab has announced its partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) for its first Artificial Intelligence Lab (AI Lab). The lab will be used as the operation center to scientifically analyze and figure out a way to solve urban transportation challenges, which will eventually lead to the development of smart cities in the future. The Grab-NUS AI Lab is a joint venture with a value of 6 million Singaporean dollar, a big investment for the first official AI Lab for Grab and the first partnership with a business sector for NUS.

III. Real world experience and a network of partnerships in the public and private sectors

  • Part of the success in utilizing big data to support the government in improving the transportation system and solve traffic congestion in Southeast Asia is due to Grab’s partnership with governments, academic and industry partners in each country.
  • One of Grab’s Public-Private Partnership initiatives utilising Big Data to solve traffic condition includes the World Bank’s Open Traffic platform project where Grab works with the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia to provide anonymized driver GPS data. This provides insights to the real-time traffic conditions and allow officers to see the congested areas and make timely and well-informed decisions as to where the traffic should be redirected to.
  • In Singapore, aside from investing in the AI Lab with the National University of Singapore to find the smartest solution to big cities’ challenges, Grab also led the Shuttle Bus pilot project with GovTech. Moreover, it has signed an agreement to jointly study travel patterns of commuters in the Lion City.
  • Additionally, Grab works with the Cambodian government to provide support for transportation challenges. In December 2017, Grab signed an MoU with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation to support the country’s infrastructure development. Under the agreement, Grab will use its technology and data to help improve road safety and traffic management in Cambodia. In addition, Grab and UNDP Cambodia also partner to help reduce pollution and enhance traffic safety and efficiency in Cambodia. It’s the first Public-Private Partnership agreement of its kind in the country.
  • For Thailand, Grab partners with the province of Buriram to support its smart transportation Smart Mobility initiative by implementing its ride-hailing service to accommodate tourists and visitors that will be travelling for the MotoGP, the world’s number one Grand Prix motorcycle racing event, which will take place on 5 – 7 October 2018.
  • Grab’s latest initiative is its partnership with Tourism Authority of Thailand to launch local tourism campaign in 5 provinces, covering 25 emerging community attractions in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi and Surat Thani (Samui). More project under the partnership is also in discussion.
  • Grab continues to work with the government sector to develop new initiatives that will be announced in the near future.

The tremendous benefits of big data and the ability to turn insights into plans that can solve traffic congestion in the region cannot be achieved without efficient information and technologies., as well as collaboration from all sectors including the government and institutions. While Grab is becoming a superapp that answers consumers’ everyday essential needs, it is well equipped with big data that can be utilized in the most beneficial ways in supporting Southeast Asia’s smart mobility and development in many countries including Thailand.

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