How Malaysia is using data to become greener and cleaner

21 March 2020

Quantum theory states that every particle in the universe is connected with one another, no matter how remote.

This is becoming ever more evident in our world at large, as cities and nations sync up to the internet - with citizens across the global able to connect across distances that were unimaginable a mere generation ago.

This hyperconnectivity is causing a revolution in Malaysia - a big bang as it were - that is bringing cities into the modern age. GovInsider has looked at how three Malaysian organisations are using new tech to make a difference to their citizens.

A smart and sustainable Subang Jaya

Just 25km from Kuala Lumpur’s twin towers sits Subang Jaya, the fifth most populous municipality in Malaysia. The local government is using connectivity to tackle three issues.

First, it is addressing traffic congestion. As TPr. Noraini Roslan, President of the Subang Jaya Municipal Council notes: “The more traffic we have on the road, the more fuel we burn, the more unhealthy the city becomes, [and] the worse it is going to be, as far as climate change is concerned,” she said. Subang Jaya must revisit its traffic flow to reduce congestion, and is using IoT to do so.

The second issue is flooding. In Subang Jaya, flash floods occur during heavy rain even when it rains for only a short period of time, say, two hours. With the predictive capabilities of smart technologies, city authorities can monitor weather forecasts and water levels, and help keep flooding at bay.

Third, smart devices can also help monitor the improper disposal of construction debris. Keeping an eye on construction sites and common dumping grounds can weed out illegal dumpers and stop the act before it is even committed, saving the time and resources needed to clean up the areas.

This all depends on reliable connectivity. “Without good connectivity, services cannot be delivered at the time when people need it most,” she said.

Penang’s water utility is using new tech

We now turn to the northwestern coast of Malaysia, in the bustling town of Penang. The city’s water utility, Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), is not afraid of exploring new solutions with emerging technologies.

Sustainability has become one of PBAPP’s top concerns. The company has to make its infrastructure more durable and reliable. In tropical Malaysia, where temperatures often go up to 35 degrees Celsius in the afternoon, outdoor equipment has to be designed to withstand the heat. They also have to be waterproof to guard against frequent flash floods.

Smart metering is helpful. This tech has only just started gaining traction in utility boards around the region, but PBAPP made their first attempt at a pilot project 20 years ago. Currently, they are working with TM ONE to use smart metering for their water supply.

PBAPP is looking to replace manual water reading for high rise buildings and gated properties. “This has taken a long time because the experts and the market were not ready,” noted Dato' Ir. Jaseni Maidinsa, CEO of PBAPP. “We intend to adopt appropriate technologies,” he added, of PBAPP’s approach to new technology. PBAPP’s focus on adopting new technology is not without good reason. “We want the whole ecosystem to be ready."

Why connectivity is key for Sunway Group?

For Sunway group, a Malaysian conglomerate, connectivity will improve its services across its businesses, which cover 12 industries including retail, education, property management and education.

The company is automating services across the group, said Khoo Hsien Li, former Director of Sunway Computers Services. “The end result is that a student can interact with a merchant in the mall, and the mall can cross-sell something to someone visiting the theme park, and so on,” he elaborated. A hyperconnected ecosystem enables an omni-channel engagement, enriching overall customer experience and an improved profitability for businesses.

But the company is not just concerned about making profits. Sunway University is running lessons and courses on sustainability as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Programme.

“That is only 20,000 students, there are a lot more people outside of the universities,” said Khoo. Connecting Sunway’s businesses can possibly help in pushing forth Sunway Group’s efforts to educate a larger group about sustainability.

In all of these stories, data is crucial. From Sunway University to Subang Jaya, new tech is making a difference. And TM ONE is at the centre of it all.

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