Harnessing data analytics for smoother commutes

16 January 2017 | Research
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From left: Mr Yu, Prof Ho and Mr Lee discussing the collaboration between NUS, Alibaba Cloud and EZ-Link

You can be sure that when a leading global university, an e-commerce giant and a major operator of contactless stored value cards come together, big things will happen — big data analytics to be exact. 

Earlier this month, a collaboration was formed between NUS; Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group; and EZ-Link, Singapore’s largest issuer of Contactless e-Purse Application (CEPAS) compliant cards.

Putting pen to the memorandum of understanding were Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology), Mr Ethan Yu, Vice President of Alibaba Group and General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Global, and Mr Nicholas Lee, CEO of EZ-Link Pte Ltd.

Big data analytics is the examining of large data sets to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful information. Through the joint effort, the three collaborators aim to harness big data and translate them into ready-to-implement solutions for both businesses and consumers.

In particular, NUS and Alibaba Cloud will work together on areas in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computing and interactive digital media to advance Singapore’s digital economy. The two are now working with EZ-Link to analyse EZ-Link card usage patterns to improve customer experience and create better services through real-time insights.

Additionally, Alibaba Cloud will contribute $720,000 (US$500,000) in cloud credits towards the use of its cloud platform and data centres by NUS students and staff for research and academic purposes.

While data science is a force to be reckon with, most exploitations in the field remain in silo. Consequently, the full benefits of big data are not fully recognised. Furthermore, the challenges in collecting timely and accurate data exist in many domains.

The ability to make sense of and analyse the huge amounts of complex and multi-modal data which requires deep knowledge of statistics, econometrics, and computer science — will be crucial to enable Singapore to harness the power of technology to create solutions that can improve the lives of its citizens and allow its businesses to be more competitive in the new digital economy.

Speaking of the collaboration, Prof Ho said, "NUS contributes to Singapore’s vision of becoming a digital economy through our University's strengths — creating value through fundamental and applied research, and training the next generation of digital talent. By working with Alibaba Cloud, a global cloud leader, we can tap into its extensive ecosystem and technology capabilities for these effor."

"The partnership with Alibaba Cloud and EZ-Link further demonstrates the close collaboration between academia and industry in solving real-world problems, and will help contribute towards a future, cashless Singapore," he added.

By Julian Tang, NUS Office of the Deputy President (Research & Technology)

See press release.