July 13, 2017
By Dave Avran
I read in the news today that DBKL is currently testing its new app linked to the Integrated Transportation Information System (Itis) system for road users to check on traffic and plan their journey accordingly.
DBKL will test the new eDrive app for two months. It is currently available on Google Play and Apple Store. The app does not cover the whole of Kuala Lumpur but is focused on roads that are usually congested, including Jalan Mahameru, Jalan Syed Putra and the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Highway.
eDrive features real-time images of certain roads from 40 stationary cameras and people can use them to see which roads are congested. Another feature is the Parking Guidance Information System for 14 malls including Suria KLCC, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Low Yat Plaza and Maju Junction.
The rationale is that this allows people to check before leaving their homes and opt for public transport in the event that the number of parking spots are low in the shopping complexes.
After registering for the app, the user will see a map that shows a 5km radius of Variable Message Sign (VMS) and CCTV view of 40 locations. The CCTV image refreshes every three minutes. There will be options of making a report for various issues on the road. People can report incidents such as faulty traffic lights, potholes, accidents and floods.
In 2015 DBKL planned to incorporate Itis into Waze, the free popular traffic and navigation app, The then Urban Transportation Department director Dr Leong Siew Mun had said the plan was still being discussed and it would allow Waze users to see real-time traffic images and plan their journey better.
Until today, they have still not approached the Waze developers on integrating but are still studying on how they can work together, even though itis has an option to link to Waze or any traffic and navigation app installed in smartphones.
Itis is primarily a traffic surveillance system. Its system component is integrated with 140 VMS and 1,000 CCTVs. The length of roadways covered by Itis is about 200km. It was launched in 2002 and has cost a whopping RM565mil to-date.
Keep in mind that the e-Drive app is not a navigation app but is for traffic information and a journey planner. eDrive cost the taxpayers RM2.9mil and took a year to complete.
For Itis, the cost of maintaining and renting the cameras and CCTVs is RM198mil for six years and the appointed contractor is VADS Lyfe (formerly known as GTC Global Sdn Bhd). It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM).
Although Itis is in working condition 15 years on, the argument remains as to the necessity of spending millions of taxpayers money on such a system at a time when traffic and navigation applications for smartphones are free.
So what is the reason for reinventing the wheel? Because someone somewhere is making money. You might want to read the title of this article again.
It is very interesting that VADS Lyfe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia Berhad, because TM was the sole beneficiary to a tune of almost a billion of the rakyat’s tax ringgit when a certain someone high up in PDRM pulled the plug on an app called MyDistress and replaced it with SaveMe999 in 2013.
The current MERS999 emergency hotline is administered by TM and precious minutes are wasted by the operator’s vetting process before they decide to connect you to PDRM, Hospital, Bomba or National Defence, where the caller will again have to go through another verification process by giving name, identification number, address and nature of emergency.
Not exactly the experience we would want to have to go through when we are in a distraught and panicky state.
Also of concern is the fact that MERS999 which cost RM801.55 million to develop, has been accused of many shortcomings. The Auditor-General’s report 2012 audit findings revealed that the overall project management was particularly poor in contract compliance, contract administration, project monitoring, late execution on the development and installation of the MERS 999 system in 16 sites; and 34 sites were operated later than the timelines stipulated. The report also noted the continuous occurrence of drop calls.
Again according to the Auditor General’s Report 2012, MERS999 has a capital expenditure of RM596.25 million and an operating expenditure of RM205.3 million.
The report found that approximately 32% of the total emergency calls to MERS999 went unanswered. According to the report, there were a total 23.6 million emergency calls from January to August last year. This works out to 32.4% or 7.6 million unanswered calls.
Even if only a minuscule 1% of these emergency calls were a life and death situation, the repercussions are truly alarming. If these allegations by the AG prove true, is Telekom really the kind of company we want operating our emergency call centre and now the eDrive system?