The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ride-hailing app Grab are partnering up to tackle traffic woes in Phnom Penh.

Under a new agreement inked yesterday, Grab will gather data collected by its drivers and will make it available to the government and UNDP, who will use the information to improve traffic efficiency, enhance safety and reduce air pollution.

“Grab will gather information on the city’s traffic and they will send us the data so that the government, in cooperation with UNDP, can work to ameliorate traffic problems,” Minister of Transport Sun Chanthol said during the signing ceremony yesterday.

The project – which has been dubbed ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility for All Initiatives,’ or Sumai – will have a life expectancy of three years and will cost around $500,000 to implement, which will be jointly financed by UNDP and Grab.

Information gathered under Sumai, which will include traffic and air quality data, will be used to shape policy as well as investment decisions on public infrastructure and urban transportation solutions.

“The project aims to improve the efficiency of existing transport systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of clean vehicles, and stimulate innovations in smart transport solutions to accelerate progress on safety and mobility for all,” the official press release said.

Russell Cohen, Grab’s head of operations in Southeast Asia, said this is the first public-private partnership tackling transportation and traffic problems in Cambodia.

“Our continued partnership with UNDP will help us further our ambition to make Southeast Asian cities cleaner and more livable,” he said.

“Apart from co-financing the project, Grab’s contribution will include sharing data, technology expertise, and manpower, as well as promoting the use of green vehicles among our drivers, partners and passengers.”

Nick Beresford, UNDP’s country director, said rapid urbanisation has enhanced standards of living across the world, but it has also brought unprecedented levels of traffic congestion that make people waste an increasing number of hours waiting in traffic-choked streets.

“This initiative goes well beyond corporate social responsibility. It offers a new model of private and public sectors engaging ‘to do well while doing good,’” he said, adding that it offers a platform for better-informed policies that will increase investment in sustainable urban development.

Minister Chanthol said that if the project is implemented successfully in the capital, it will be extended to other major cities in the country, like Siem Reap or Sihanoukville.