For those that have lived in Jakarta for most of their lives, you’ve probably experienced all the ups and downs, the good and bad that comes with the ongoing development of a metropolitan city. Ever since technology has penetrated a large portion of society –where people are always hooked to their smartphones, efforts to capitalise on this up-and-coming form of dependency has grabbed the attention of businesses and –perhaps surprisingly for some- the local government of Jakarta.
Perhaps after years of weariness towards non-commitments and no action from local officials, it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to know that the city’s government are taking concrete strides to improve the populace’s living conditions. Credit must be given where it’s due, especially since the time Pak Jokowi was still looking after around ten million people and up until today when our current governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama –or familiarized as Pak Ahok- is bringing forth a wave of change unlike anything the city has seen before.
One such effort by city officials is the conception of the Jakarta Smart City programme or JSC. This particular project by the governor’s office aims to collect potentially key data and information about the city from top to bottom and make the data available for all citizens to see. You can think of this project as a technical directory on many things that makes Jakarta beat. If that sounds like a mouthful, it may be better to see the project in action for yourself by heading to smartcity.jakarta.go.id. Once on the website, the common person can click on an array of menu options that show information from TransJakarta exact bus locations, real-time flooding reports, to even CCTV cameras that are online throughout the entire city.
JSC itself has actually been around since December 2014. However, there hasn’t been much fanfare for what could potentially be a game-changing advent. The head of JSC, Setiaji said that there is a reason why they haven’t rolled out the red carpet. “We’ve been trying to collect as much data as possible before unveiling it on a big scale. We’re still fine-tuning a lot of stuff, but you should hear more about JSC this year,” Setiaji said.
So how does it work exactly?
At its core, JSC is a data aggregator with crowd-sourced reports feeding the project constantly every minute of every day. Anybody with a smartphone can download their official app named Qlue and can report anything from traffic jams to garbage problems through the app. The reports will then be forwarded to the JSC command centre at the city council building and interpreted into something that’s meaningful and readable by everybody. People then can see the data feed directly on smartcity.jakarta.go.id in the form of an interactive map; or if you prefer, head straight to the city council building in Central Jakarta. “Right now we have around 1,500 to 2,000 reports on Qlue from all over Jakarta. You can see us in action on a huge monitor in the control room of the JSC Lounge,” Setiaji said. “It’s open to public because we want people to be curious and know what the government isup to. It’s part of our efforts to promote an open government.”
There are currently about 200 data sets that are collected on a daily basis by JSC’s portal. Aside from the previously mentioned TransJakarta bus tracking, flood reports and CCTV cameras, JSC also allows citizens to view the statuses of market prices for food items, land prices based on region, park locations in the city, to even fish farm locations among many other neat informations that you probably hadn’t thought of before.
As with any project on a massive scale, running JSC has not been without its challenges. The lack of tech-savviness among many local officials have bottlenecked parts of the team’s efforts in solving some pressing problems. “Some local officials take a long time to respond to citizens because they’re not quite used to the technology. But we’re working on that, said Setiaji. “Unruly citizens who keep throwing their trash on the streets or jaywalking are also still a problem. All in all, the lack of discipline is also a big obstacle for us.”
Then, of course, there’s still the case of awareness among Jakartans. JSC’s communications manager, Daniel Giovanni, said they’re trying to spread awareness through word of mouth at first. “We’re trying to emphasise on getting success stories out there for everybody to hear. Because at first, I too was unsure of the usefulness of this programme,” Daniel said. He then continued on saying that once people know the benefits of JSC, citizens will hopefully flock to the website on a daily basis. “Simply put, the whole project is about connecting the city’s inhabitants with the government. To allow anybody to tell the people in this building about their problems so they can be solved,” Daniel pointed out. “I think it can also make us realise that social media is not only to post selfies or food pictures, but you can also help to make Jakarta a better city.”
Peering into the looking glass, the JSC team has high hopes of where the project should head in the near future. ”We are currently working with Zomato and IndoRelawan to collect data on all the street food hawkers in Jakarta. We want to make an effort by checking their cleanliness and safety to ensure all of Jakarta’s street food is safe to consume, said Setiaji. “We’re hoping this could elevate the quality of our street food.”
Setiaji hopes that they’ll finally be able to organize a grand launching of JSC around June of this year. By then, he hopes that the amount of information on the interactive map will increase by a great amount to make it even more alluring to be utilised by citizens. In terms of technology, JSC isn’t stopping at just one interactive map. Setiaji disclosed that they already have numerous projects down the pipeline that includes the Jakarta One Payment Card (somewhat like an Oyster Card in the United Kingdom but on steroids) and also increasing CCTV presence in the city to complement the Jakarta Safer City policy.
Ultimately, JSC is a step in the right direction if Jakarta is ever to evolve into something more than just a city with hidden potential. Considering we have around ten million citizens, it’s fair to say that the power of the people can be harnessed to benefit all that live in Jakarta. For Setiaji and his team, approval and awareness from the public means everything. “Even if the government creates a very good program to keep the city running well and even improve its living conditions, it won’t reach its full potential unless the people we serve gives us their ongoing full support,” he finished.
Setiaji – Head of Jakarta Smart City
What is the main idea of Jakarta Smart City (JSC)?
Jakarta Smart City is a program from the government of Jakarta to ensure that citizens can access all the data this city has. Basically it is a reflection of our efforts to create an open government and increase transparency to the public.
What was the inspiration behind JSC?
It was actually inspired by Pak Joko Widodo’s efforts to visit specific locations within the city or commonly known as blusukan. We also gathered information and did comparisons with a few cities in Europe and how they apply the open government philosophy.
How can people make reports to JSC?
There are several channels that citizens can use to file a report. One of the most popular ones is Qlue –a mobile app that connects people with local government officials. So when they make a report, nearby government agencies will quickly respond to it. Aside from Qlue, citizens can also make reports via text message, Facebook, or Twitter.
What’s been the response from citizens towards JSC?
Honestly, many haven’t even noticed that the government has this program. But based on the reports from Qlue, we can say we’re off to a good start. We’ve opened up the JSC Lounge mainly to further socialise this initiative to a wider audience in order for them to understand what’s going on. Other than that, we’ve mostly heard positive feedback so I know we’re on the right track.
Daniel Giovanni – Communications Manager of Jakarta Smart City
Can you tell us what you’re working on in Jakarta Smart City (JSC)?
We’re pretty much working on the portals, websites, and the little details related to the Jakarta Smart City. For example, we’re trying to get developers to create apps that could help Jakartans. We are also collaborating with existing technology companies and constantly socialise the citizens of Jakarta on JSC.
What’s your opinion on JSC’s app, Qlue?
Personally, I’m actually an avid user of Qlue even before I started working here. I was sceptical at first, but then I tested it out by making a report and waited to see if I would get a response in a timely manner. Turns out it did! I reported numerous things such as traffic jams, trash on the streets, to vandalism and the problems were usually solved within 24 hours. It’s good to know that our government is listening to our problems and trying their best to fix it.
How do you increase awareness so citizens can reap the benefits of this program?
We try to post often on our social media accounts, at least to make our circle of friends take notice about this program. From there, words will eventually spread and step by step people will start to acknowledge this program, see the benefits, and start using it. We also advertise in several public places and public transportations in Jakarta to increase our reach.
What’s been your biggest personal challenge?
On my level, the biggest challenge is to standardise the data, because we have so much data that’s diverse. Each agency that we collaborate with has different standards. We try to uniform the data, try to get them in the same standard. From a communications perspective, getting the message out is quite the challenge. We have to nurture the main points or the main key words on certain policies and try to put them into really attractive visuals, videos, or even audios.
Pandhu Wiguna – Sales Manager
Have you ever heard about the Jakarta Smart City (JSC) program before?
Yes, I actually have. Some of the staff even had a meeting with us several weeks ago, as I work with a media portal company so they wanted to create something together with us.
What’s your take on JSC?
I think it’s a very good program. Using technology and people to create a better Jakarta is clever. But I think they need to socialise more about this program because I don’t see many people that know about it yet.
Have you ever made a report through Qlue?
I downloaded Qlue once, but have never used it because I’ve never encountered any heavy traffic or vandalism in my neighbourhood. So I’ve never had a proper experience in reporting stuff nor getting a response from officials.
What do you think the government needs to improve on the JSC program?
Aside from increasing socialisation to citizens, I think they need to add more features that could help make the lives of Jakartans easier living in the city. Perhaps not only about reporting problems, but also recommendations on stuff to do or places to go. (HARIO PRIAMBODHO + HANIFAH MUTYA + SHANNON SCHUBERT)
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