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Governor’s smart city initiatives improve Jakarta’s international standing

Interview - September 23, 2016

Popular Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is seen as someone who fights corruption, keeps bureaucracy simple, and always has the public’s interest at heart. United World asks Governor Ahok to discuss some of his smart city initiatives and their impact. 


Under your leadership Jakarta has introduced a raft of smart city initiatives. What progress has been made in implementing these new ideas?

For me, the important thing is how you make the people want to participate to develop this city. Participation is the most important thing. When we talk about a smart city, it is easy to make it happen, but how can you make sure that people will participate and interact with the government? The vision of this city is human development; how do we improve the quality of human life? I always say that for that quality of human life we need a full brain, a full stomach, and a full wallet.

My first mission to get this vision accomplished was to turn bureaucrats into public servants. As I always said, I am not a government official, I am just an employee, and I came here to find a job. I just need to work. We have too many employees here in Jakarta, we have 72,000 employees, but half of them work as teachers and in the hospital. However, I want to create a very simple, smaller bureaucracy in this city, this is why we need technology.

Jakarta is a big city and I need technology that allows me to know what the people think, their reactions, responses. We initiated the smart city software that integrates CCTV, the command center, and monitoring. So when people complain to us, we work on it immediately. We worked with a team of young developers to create this sort of app, called Qlue.


Jakarta is a huge city with 267 sub-districts and 44 districts. What role do they play in governing the city?

So first of all, I altered their role; instead of being a government official, they should act like an estate manager. I altered their perception: you’re not a bureaucrat, you’re an estate manager who controls your area, which is one sub-district. They should also act like a parent and take care of your children. So, when there are problems like garbage, flood shortages, or electricity black outs, they need to take care of it. This is where the app comes in: you just need to take a picture of the problem. We are now working with Google maps and the location will come out, become the red dot, and this machine will automatically send the notification to our sub-district head. If they don’t open the report more than one day, the dot remains red. If they give responses, it turns yellow; and if the problems are solved, the dot turns green.

My app is a bit different, we call it CROP. It’s an abbreviation for Cepat Reaksi Opini Publik – quick response to the public opinion. We have an app for the government official. Through the control, they will know what is working, what is not.

I have another app, called Qlue dashboard, I just need to tap two times on the screen and I will see the list of which employees gave quick responses. If you are always around the lowest for three months, I will fire you.


How are you ensuring a sense of community is instilled amongst residents of the city?

We need to ensure the people share and care for each other. When you live in one sub-district, we need you to share and care. But to build that community, the community needs a place, which is why we created RPTRA. RPTRA is a children friendly integrated public space, in Bahasa Indonesia. R-P-T-R-A stands for Ruang Publik Terpadu Ramah Anak (integrated child friendly space). The fact is, it’s not only child friendly, it’s friendly for everyone. We want to create the sense of belonging so everyone will feel like they own these spaces.

The university created social mapping on what people want and need. For instance, nursing rooms, badminton, and volleyball, we built everything for them. For the elders we have hydroponic farms, fish, herbal plants, health screening rooms, and music and library rooms. My plan is to make sure there is one RPTRA for each sub-district. We have already accomplished 53 and this year there are 120 under construction. The ideal population in one integrated park is 2,500 citizens, so eventually we will have more than one per sub-district.


Health care is another important thing that the Government of Jakarta is taking care of.

The health care program is for everyone; they must own a health care program card, we call it BPJS Kesehatan. We used to have the Healthy Jakarta Card, or Kartu Jakarta Sehat, which became nationalized – Kartu Indonesia Sehat – after Pak Jokowi left this office to become the president. It was first implemented in Jakarta in 2014. This is a very good card; if you get sick, just come to our community hospital.

We are also doing more in terms of health infrastructure. We are on a planning to construct a cancer hospital that could accommodate up to 1,000 stroke patients and 1,026 brain cancer patients; in total it’s 2,026 beds in one very big hospital. The groundbreaking is targeted to be next year.


How are you improving education within the city?

In this city, 40% of the teenagers are school dropouts, according to the World Bank report. So, we introduced the Kartu Jakarta Pintar (KJP) – Jakarta Smart Card. It’s like a scholarship. This card is a saving account. We provided education for more than 550,000 students with marginalized backgrounds. The total amount of the subsidy is almost US$160 million. We applied this non-cash policy so there wouldn’t be any misuse. They can only use the card as a debit card, but no money withdrawal is allowed – if they do this, they lose the right to use this card. For those who want to go to university, we will provide them 18 million rupiah, about US$1,200 annually, which is about US$120 per month to fund their study.

We will eventually turn the Jakarta Smart Card into Jakarta One, because we want to make the city a cashless society. I don’t want cash transactions; everything should be transparent.

I believe the root of the problem in this country is corruption, so we need to make sure everything is transparent, both budgets and transactions. All transactions must now use bank transfer, so I can track it easily; I will have proof of the money flow.


Jakarta is known as one of the most congested cities in the world. How has transport infrastructure development progressed in the city?

We already have Metro transportation designed from south to north with MRT, west to east with MRT, west to east from and to other provinces like West Java and Banten province. And between the south and north we have a commuter line. Now we are developing nine corridors of LRT, which are under construction. Hopefully in 2018 we will have one or two routes accomplished, including our MRT from south to north.

I have already changed our policy on buses; we really want to provide better bus rapid transit. I think the previous policy was not good enough; our bus rapid transit only focused on the busway corridor. What we want to do is take control of all the bus routes in the whole city – no operator should take this right – and we will use our own company to take care of this. I also want to know what people’s destination point is – that’s why now we are developing a card tap system where, for instance, we will know if they want to go from A to B, but there’s no direct bus.

This year I ordered 152 buses, free of charge for the main protocol road. I will ban the motorcycle so people could walk, and if you’re tired, you can just use the bus for free. We will also have, maybe by the end of this year, 48 double-decker buses. I provide a very big PSO, Public Service Obligation: a 3.2 trillion rupiah (about US$270 million) subsidy for the bus, not only in Jakarta but also the ones that come from the suburbs. I hope they will leave their motorcycles at home, and they would save money, and improve the cost of living.


How is infrastructure being improved for public safety?

We improved the quality of the National Monument Park: this year we changed the lights to LED lights, so it will shine very bright at night, and we will open the park until 10 pm. We will also improve the Lapangan Banteng Park. This is primarily about energy saving. When we get hit by strong seasonal rain, I have a team 24/7 that keeps monitoring to get updates on which areas are flooding during or after heavy rains. These days, Jakarta has improved in terms of handling floods.


The Government of Jakarta also has operations in food security and nutrition. What is your focus in this area?

Currently, the poor people spent 70%-73% of their income on food, but we managed to set the best rice price that happened last year, even during the Eid holidays – inflation was very low. We made frequent interventions in the rice market. Before that, they sold premium rice for 20,000 rupiah per kg; now it’s only 13,000 rupiah per kg. We hope we can eventually control pricing on the nine basic needs like sugar, rice, meat, eggs, even food like onions, chilies, also cooking oil. We want to provide very low cost food for the people.


The cost of housing is another major concern for the citizens of Jakarta. How is housing being improved?

This year, we are starting to develop a new system of ERP – we built apartments, but for the middle class. We only charge them the room, not the land, for about US$7-8 daily. It’s about 3 million rupiah monthly, 100,000 rupiah daily. Therefore, the middle class can work in this city and live in this city too. Most of the middle class people don’t have money to buy a house here, they have to live in suburban areas. With this system, on the weekdays, they could stay in the city. This program is for the young families with kids, so they will have more time with their families.

They would live in low-cost apartments; therefore they could save time and money to buy another house in suburban areas. They can go back to the suburbs on the weekends. This will decrease the number of vehicles coming into the city for work. The idea is how to invite them back to the city. These commutes generate 3.5 million vehicles every day, they cause heavy traffic jams. For the upcoming Asian Games, we will build many athlete villages, and we will use these for the young professionals to stay afterwards.


Fostering the retail sector is also important. How are you starting incubators in this area?

We have 153 markets but this market has never really helped the poor for many reasons. If you like the private sector and the shopping mall, 1m2 space is US$20 or US$30 per month: why don’t you want to rent in the shopping mall? Because they’re asking for two years rent in advance. Poor people cannot afford it. How about our market?

That’s why we changed the system. Before that, corrupt officials owned 20-40 units and they rented them to others. Now, one family could only own one unit. I made a new law, and maybe next month, or this month, I will open three markets, which will act as an incubator. How about if they want to inherit it? Your children or son or daughter-in-law could own this, but if they don’t want to do business there, you must give it back to us, you cannot not sell it, because this is our incubator.


There are so many different plans for Jakarta, many of them very interesting for international investors. In terms of international investors and business people, how can they get involved in the transformation of Jakarta?

Actually we are the first province in Indonesia which has big open data. Just go to the Jakarta Smart City website to see the open data; we published it there. We also have a one-stop service in all district and sub-district offices – we are like a broker, but a very kind broker, no tipping; this is the one-stop service. People come here on a daily basis. In less than one hour they could get their permit.

We created co-working spaces for young developers on the third floor of this building. We are also developing two co-working spaces, in Kuningan, for developers, and the other one is for fashion, in Waduk Melati. If you’re a very smart developer, and you need a place but you don’t have money, we provide computers, 3D printers. It’s like going to the gym, you just pay a monthly or daily fee and you could get this facility to work in.

We also want to make co-working spaces for fashion design. Every year, we have Jakarta Fashion Week. We work with them to help young designers to develop themselves. We provide all the equipment they need; they just need to bring their body, mind, and ideas. We want to create many young entrepreneurs, that is why we subsidize these facilities – this is a socialist idea, not a capitalist idea. I believe if we didn’t give equal opportunities to the poor, they wouldn’t stand a chance.


What should the brand of Indonesia be? In the case of Jakarta, what is the nation’s capital branded as?

Very easy: “Enjoy Jakarta”, that’s our brand.