Get Smart, Jakarta

The head of Jakarta Smart City on how the concept is changing the way our capital works

By Karmila Bain and Gilang Ardana
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

As both a metropolitan city and Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta has more than its fair share of complicated challenges. From traffic management to bureaucracy reform, infrastructure to government accountability, the Big Durian’s leaders are always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve things.

The latest innovation, the Smart City concept, utilizes technology and data management for almost every aspect of the city’s operations. To that end, it is envisioned as a way to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of Jakarta’s government in order to improve the quality of its citizens’ lives.

Since its launch in 2014, Jakarta Smart City (JSC) has implemented various innovations to transform the way Jakarta works. AmCham Indonesia met with Setiaji, the man behind JSC, to discuss the progress so far.

Setiaji is no stranger to the field. Prior to his appointment as the head of Jakarta Smart City, he was on the board of Jakarta’s Regional Development Planning Agency (BPPD) and oversaw the development of apps such as m-Gov, m-Poverty and m-Musrenbang to enhance the Jakarta government’s services to the people. Setiaji told AmCham how JSC has brought changes to Jakarta, and its plans for the future.

AmCham Indonesia: Can you share with us the story behind the Jakarta Smart City?

Setiaji: The idea emerged at the time when Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] was still Jakarta’s governor, and was a way to technologically realize Jokowi’s “blusukans” [impromptu visits] where he wanted to get direct information from residents about conditions in certain areas around Jakarta.

On the other hand, it is important also to highlight that people deserve to know data and give input. They need to know information on how their tax money is being allocated, for instance.  Previously all that was being provided were suggestion boxes, which are not effective. Complaints at that time were not delivered directly to the leaders. Jakarta’s status as a metropolitan city with many satellites cities also makes it vulnerable to problems such as traffic, waste and other issues that we have right now.

For all of those reasons, JSC was initiated in 2014 to try to tackle the problems and enhance services to the people.

So what is actually being offered by JSC?

The first program on the list was to create the Smart City portal. JSC is integrated with the data and information published in our portal, which can be accessed by citizens. The data itself varies. The information about grocery prices is one example, and even information such as the availability of hospital rooms. This is part of our effort to make the Jakarta government more accountable, and also to enhance the ability of people to monitor what is going on.

JSC also cooperated with several app providers. We cooperated with WAZE to collect mass data on Jakarta’s traffic. We collaborate with Qlue to provide a platform where citizens can report on what the government needs to take care of. With these technological innovations, we hope all complaints and problems from citizens can be delivered right away to the district leaders and we can respond to them fast.

What changes have come about through JSC since 2014?

First, increased government efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. The government is now improving its ability to monitor problems in the field and quickly respond to the problems.

Second, transparency, which supports government collaboration with citizens to maintain Jakarta. Via Qlue, every complaint will be delivered directly to the Lurah [district head] and the Lurah can appoint district staff to solve the complaint right away. We can see here in the JSC office all of those complaints – how many complaints received, which ones are being processed and which have been solved.

This method has supported every leader in every sub-level of government in Jakarta to be more active in serving the people.

So it is really affecting the way Jakarta officials work?

Yes. The development now is more people-based.  During 2015, we did some evaluation. We focused on all the things we had done. We found the best ways possible to get back to the people as soon as we can on complaints. We also try to integrate all data from various government agencies to be made available on our portal. But not only gathering data, we also analyze the data as a basis for policy-making.  In the Qlue app, we also have a tracker for complaint responses, so we can monitor which kelurahan [district] is already doing good in providing timely responses and which ones need to be improved.

Looking at data from various government agencies, we cannot ignore the fact that there may be some officials that are still reluctant to open data to the public. Is this the case for Jakarta?

Yes, we understand that and we are also experiencing that. At the beginning when we launched JSC, it was very hard to gather data.

However, we have shared concerns on how all officials should understand that since 2013, and we are already a part of the Open Government partnership. We should embrace transparency. We are trying our best to support all Jakarta government units to start opening up the data – that is to make sure the data is in the form of excel/csv (not pdf) so people can also analyze the data. We created a pact with all government agencies. As time goes by, it is changing, and they are now more proactively providing data to the public.

You should also understand that opening up data is also part of the challenge given by the governor to all government units, or they should aware of the governor’s famous words – “you are fired”.

How about public awareness of the platforms provided by JSC? Do people use them?

From the statistics, there is a significant improvement in the number of reports from citizens. Early on it was only 1,000 reports a month, now we have up to 40,000 reports. So yes, I think people are more aware now.

What has attracted the most complaints?

Garbage, violation of the rules, flooding, illegal parking and… traffic!

How is JSC addressing the issue of Jakarta’s traffic?

We are aware that we currently cannot totally solve the issue. But where JSC tries to help is to provide certainty, because in this very complicated traffic what people need is certainty – what time the bus will arrive, or when the next commuter line will be available, or track the current location of buses on Jakarta’s busway. We have already cooperated with several app-makers to ensure we can provide such certainty.

Jakarta is also now developing the MRT [mass rail transit], LRT [light rail transit] and ERP [electronic road pricing] and we hope this can encourage people to move to public transport to reduce traffic.

What’s next for JSC?

The next program is to transform Jakarta into a “cashless society” by developing the Jakarta One Card. It is a multi-function card that serves as payment technology so we can pay all transactions by only using one card for all.

Later, in 2018, when Indonesia hosts the Asian Games, we need to make sure all delegates enjoy the competition and perhaps decide to stay longer in Indonesia. Therefore, we still have time to improve the Jakarta Smart City by continuing the implementation of innovative ideas for the betterment of public services.

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