Give Us a Qlue

Smart city app empowers people to tackle Jakarta’s traffic and flooding miseries

By Tellisa Ramadhani
Monday, October 17, 2016

According to a new index created by the Castrol motor oil company in 2015, Jakarta is the worst city in the world for traffic jams. Drivers in the capital are stopping and starting their cars 33,240 times per year on the road, compared to Tampere in Finland with the best traffic in the world at only 6,240 times per year. Of course this is no surprise to anyone spending time in the city.

Flooding is also a major hazard in Jakarta, especially during the monsoon season, making traffic problems even worse, although the situation is improving courtesy of cleanups of sewers and riverbanks.

But the tech is also lending a helping hand. The Qlue app, created around eighteen months ago, was triggered by the company’s belief that a major barrier to improving these problems over the years has been the communication gap between citizens and the Jakarta government, with no easy way for the public to report problems, and then follow up on whether anything has been done about them.

Qlue, headed by CEO Rama Raditya, as a Google partner, created a platform where citizens can do exactly that, and city government officials receive the reports immediately.

To this end, Qlue has two programs: one is the mobile application that can be used by the public to report problems; and the other is a platform used by government and companies for data integration and analytics.

Qlue received a huge boost when Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama showed interest in its work. Qlue, in turn, allowed its platform to be included in the Jakarta Smart City dashboard and let the city council integrate all kinds of data. Qlue was then asked by Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, and Twitter to integrate their data within the platform.

The advantage Qlue has compared to the previous reporting app and data analytics system the city used, is that it can offer real-time data so the Jakarta government can measure public satisfaction. To increase the volume of the data, Qlue has incorporated gamification and social media aspects into the app – when reporting problems, users are given incentives as in a game, and can also connect with people in their neighborhood.

Rama is optimistic that Qlue will help Jakartans. Qlue currently reaches around 1 million people – 1/5 of total smartphone users in Jakarta – which Rama thinks is heading in the right direction. He says that Qlue receives around 40,000 reports per day, of which 97 percent are being followed up by the city government. This progress is also helped by the government’s commitment to process the reports, requiring subdistrict heads to report action three times a day if they want to receive their operational budget.

“Our tagline is ‘Berani Berubah’ [Dare to Change],” said Rama. “It takes not just government officials but all layers of community to be willing to change the city. I am optimistic that we are going in the right direction, seen from people’s enthusiasm on reporting issues and the attentiveness of the officials to follow-up the issues.”

But there are still challenges blocking Qlue’s expansion. One is the hesitation of mayors and governors in other areas to use the platform. Qlue believes these mayors and governors are more scared of their image being ruined if the issues their cities face are out in public. Another challenge is the difficulty in solving other issues such as parking, which is often handled by local thugs who seem to intimidate government officials. Rama thinks this could be solved but it takes a tough mayor or governor.

Qlue’s solution? Improving the app by letting the public solve problems without local governments being involved. The idea is that whenever there is an issue of damaged infrastructure, people in the neighborhood can help solve the issue through a crowdfunding system. This was inspired by a community in Bekasi that was frustrated that a damaged bridge was not fixed for a long period, so they decided to go down the crowdfunding road, and the bridge was repaired.

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