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Jakarta pursues 'smart' answers to urban problems

Indonesian capital looks to technology to increase efficiency, reduce corruption

The smart city command center in Jakarta aggregates data from the JSC website and reports from citizens. (Photo by Enricko Lukman)

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's sprawling capital believes it is gaining ground in the battle against corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency, thanks to the smart use of information technology. Launched in 2014, the Jakarta Smart City project aims to harness IT to solve a wide range of urban problems, including corruption and a lack of transparency across the country.

Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, currently seeking re-election, has said that corruption is at the root of many of Jakarta's problems, which include difficulties in dealing with repeated floods and traffic congestion levels that were labelled the world's worst in a 2014 study by Castrol, an oil company. Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, ranked Indonesia 90th of 176 countries in its 2016 perceptions of corruption index.

"There is only one way to get at the root of the problem which is preventing us from tackling the floods, poverty, and traffic congestion in Jakarta. Yes, we must clean up corruption," Purnama said in 2014, the year he was elected as governor of the province of Jakarta city.

The Qlue app allows people to file reports to the government in the form of photographs, with additional data such as locations. (Photo by Enricko Lukman)

A key aim of the JSC project launched by the province is to use technology to enhance transparency. In 2015 Jakarta implemented an electronic budgeting system that requires all government officials to submit budget proposals online. The system allows the city government to monitor all activity within the platform, as well as limiting unwelcome efforts to interfere with the budgeting process.

Previously, Jakarta city budgets were drafted manually, using spreadsheet technology that made it difficult to track changes made by individuals. Now, anyone can monitor the details of all Jakarta budgeting on the JSC website, and comment online.

In 2014, Jakarta started requiring employees to use an "e-catalogue" system when making official purchases. The e-catalogue comprises vendors and products that have gone through a verification process, allowing officials to avoid lengthy tender processes. Purnama also believes it can help reduce the scope for corruption through inflated prices. In 2016, there were 81,000 products in the catalogue, with total transactions of 48 trillion rupiah ($3.59 billion) nationwide.

The JSC project welcomes initiatives from developers who want to use its applications interface for technology products, including offerings on the internet of things. To help boost more collaboration with startups, the JSC team plans to open a co-working space in the first quarter of 2017.

Road bottlenecks

The JSC project has also rolled out Qlue, an app developed by a third-party startup, which lets citizens file reports to the government in the form of photographs, with additional data such as locations. The most reported incidents are traffic-related, including road bottlenecks and illegal parking, along with flooding and environmental problems. These reports are processed by officials using another app called CROP, which means Public Opinion Rapid Response.

The Jakarta Smart City website includes a map monitoring events in Jakarta. (Photo by Enricko Lukman)

Qlue has garnered more than 520,000 users among Jakarta's 10 million inhabitants, with 479,353 reports posted in 2016. Qlue chief executive Rama Raditya said it takes just a few hours for city officials to follow up each report.

Citizens can monitor a range of data on the JSC website, including all the reports from Qlue, as well as the status of the city's flood gates. The Jakarta government has a dedicated online disaster map showing locations that require immediate attention and evacuation. The government ties follow-ups to online reports to officials' performance indicators -- and ties them to bonuses to make sure the system is taken seriously.

The JSC project has partnerships with other third-party tech companies, including Waze, a mapping app owned by Google, Go-Food, an on-demand food delivery provider, and Zomato, a food directory based in India. Waze provides traffic data to the city government, while Go-Food and Zomato provide registries of licensed peddlers.

"We have over 950 street vendors listed on Zomato as part of this collaboration with the smart city team," said Zomato Indonesia country manager Karthik Shetty. Some of the street vendors have received better ratings than restaurants in their areas, according to Shetty. Prasetyo Andi Wicaksono, JSC information technology head, said the peddlers reported an increase of about 30% in revenue as a result of the partnership.

The next big initiative for the JSC project involves automated video analytics using closed-circuit televisions installed around Jakarta. The plan is to bring all CCTVs online and to monitor them on one dashboard. The team will then be able to see which areas are crowded, and create traffic or other policies based on the data.

Face recognition

The team is also seeking to develop face recognition and face search technology using CCTV. "Face recognition will work real-time ... while face search works using recordings, so when there's a missing child, we can trace the child using the CCTVs," said Wicaksono. The team hopes to finish developing those features, and install more CCTVs, in time for the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

Another key aim is promoting a cashless society. The Jakarta government has already stopped providing financial assistance in the form of cash, switching to e-money accessed via smart cards to provide education and medical funding. This allows the government to track cash flows and ensure that recipients are using benefits for the intended purpose. The JSC team is planning to amalgamate payments into a single card system, which will be integrated with identity cards in 2019.

Frans Thamura, founder of Meruvian, a software development foundation, said the JSC project is at an early stage because the government is still bringing data and processes online. He urged the JSC team to start integrating data with other government bodies. "For example, [the ministry of education and culture] has a teacher database, the interior ministry has data of civil servants, while Jakarta has its own data," he said. "Valid data is the foundation of the smart system."

The JSC team admits that integration is a long-term challenge because each government body has developed separate online systems that are difficult to integrate. Thamura, who worked alongside the information and communications technology ministry in 2006 to develop data inter-operability infrastructure, said there has not been much progress since then.

Other Indonesian cities are implementing similar concepts to the JSC project, including Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang and Makassar. Minister of Internal Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo has said he wants to implement the smart city concept nationwide, and has partnered with Microsoft and Gajah Mada University to help execute the project. Besides Jakarta, 12 other cities are using Qlue to collect citizens' reports.

"The smart city concept should be developed in order to provide fast, transparent and better services to all people," Tjahjo said in September 2016. "We are expecting that by mid-2017 all local governments would have applied the concept."

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