Microsoft Excel simply won’t do for billions of data points, Khairy tell Yeo Bee Yin

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Khairy says using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet won’t be enough to handle millions of data on a daily basis. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Khairy says using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet won’t be enough to handle millions of data on a daily basis. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet won’t be enough to handle millions of data on a daily basis, Khairy Jamaluddin told former science, technology and innovation minister Yeo Bee Yin.

He said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) team had to handle a lot of data and would need a proper system to handle everything, adding that the RM70 million purported for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) data integration and appointment system was not only for the website but covers all expenditure.

“To say the present system is unable to prioritise senior citizens is untrue. We are dealing with 15 million registrations, more than 30 million data points in a tenth of a gigabyte.

“Standard Excel can maybe take a million rows but not billions, so with all due respect, a simple spreadsheet will not work,” he said today during the NIP press conference.

Yeo called out Khairy and his agency for not being able to extract the list of senior citizens and priority groups for vaccination appointments first.

Yeo, who was Khairy’s predecessor, pointed out yesterday that the RM70 million NIP data integration and appointment system does not even have basic data management capabilities.

She had urged Khairy to disclose the qualifications and capability of the data team behind the system as their capability in handling data for NIP is in serious doubt.

Yeo added that CITF must assess if there is any possibility to improve the capability of the data integration and appointment system in a short amount of time, else it should start looking for a decentralised and simpler system that runs parallel to the current centralised system to ensure that data management does not become an obstacle for a smooth vaccination rollout.

“I’ve said before that RM70 million is a ceiling and not only for the website,” he said.

“We have around 60 per cent of seniors who will be vaccinated by the middle of June because the system can easily access them. Previously, it was an issue of supply then capacity, but I have said we are ramping up our efforts.”

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