The Malaysian Government will this year expand the use of data analytics in agencies, training more civil servants in data science, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu, announced this week.

The plan is being led by the Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU). “For 2016, MAMPU will focus on increasing the number of government agencies using the DRSA [Public Sector Big Data] platform”, he added.

The agency has just completed four pilot projects in big data. It worked with the Royal Malaysian Police on preventing car thefts; Ministry of Health to predict cases of hand, foot and mouth disease; Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism on price controls; and it led sentiment analysis on citizens’ patriotism.

It has also completed a year-long collaboration with MIMOS, the country’s research agency, helping four agencies create proof of concepts using analytics.

The Department of Irrigation and Drainage analysed the frequency of floods; the National Hydraulic Research Institute built a 90-year prediction of floods; the Department of Islamic Development analysed religious extremism among citizens; and the Ministry of Finance analysed citizens’ sentiment of cost of living on social media.

As the government looks to expand the use of analytics, more civil servants must be trained. “The skills of government officials in the field of Data Science will be a major focus, giving hands-on exposure to more agencies”, Minister Entulu said.

Officials must be trained to analyse data to identify challenges. “Focus shall be given to the development of the capability of civil servants, especially to improve skills in identifying problems that exist or [building] business cases”, he said.

They must have “the expertise to analyse data obtained by using big data analytics” and find “potential solutions based on the data source”, he added.

Image by MAMPU