Jokowi and Digital Revolution

Didik Purwandanu ; A researcher at Harvard Kennedy School and
the Pattiro regional research group in Jakarta
JAKARTA POST, 07 Januari 2015

The Internet is not merely a dissemination tool but also a common collaboration space in monitoring public issues. This has been proven by Ainun Najib, who developed, an Internet forum that shows the results of more than 700 volunteers involved in counting ballots in the last general election.

Their experiment, as stated by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt in 2013, shows that the Internet has become the largest experiment and is full of surprises.

The digital revolution has led millions of young people to produce digital content every minute in a virtual world without limits. This revolution has had clear impacts on business competition in various sectors.

In the public sector, a variety of digital innovations in many countries have led to improved transparency and accountability. Not surprisingly in his election campaign, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo repeatedly mentioned e-government, e-auditing, e-procurement and other online systems to facilitate the running of government.

Jokowi’s idea seemed great at first glance. But while other countries already have an integrated database of population, crime and social security, we still have not settled the issue of the single population registration number and e-ID card.

Some developed countries such as Singapore and the UK have been exploring the open government approach, where government data are released through the Internet and other channels while providing an opportunity for the public to give input for the improvement of public services. The experience could be adopted by the government under Jokowi to make an e-government platform utilizing crowdsourcing collaboration. It would mean communities that could engage interactively with each other in filling content.

One worthy exercise to try is the interactive model for planning and budgeting. Residents could be involved to validate the data base of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) to calculate public service budgets.

Likewise, school committees would not just be the school principal’s policy stamp, but could help to seek ways to reduce the illiteracy rate in their surroundings based on available budget.

However, this approach also presents challenges. Among other things, there is the need to determine what kind of data should be owned by the government; there are also concerns about the quality, security and privacy related to that information.

Second, there is a potential of abuse of the information presented. So it is important for the government to regulate how the data should be used, with appropriate notification.

The Communications and Information Ministry has targeted all areas to be connected to the Internet. Every city building’s fiber optic network will have a bandwidth of up to 40 gigabytes per second.

Unfortunately, only 15 percent of the targeted 1,330 new connections in the Smart Village program has been achieved.

For the new minister, this is certainly serious work that needs to be done. Not only to understand the appropriate technology and infrastructure but also that it be carried out in accordance with the core values of this approach to the digital revolution: transparency, accountability and participation.

Its success relies heavily on community involvement. Residents should consider themselves active citizens, not just beneficiaries of policies and public services.

The “open government” and crowdsourcing approach has wide benefits, from involving citizens, increasing the legitimacy of power and opening up innovation space.

Transparency of data with quick feedback can improve public services. Over time, the benefits is that these measures will encourage the community to care more about their common problems.

For Jokowi’s populist style, the approach not only strengthens his legitimacy as a leader who is close to the people. It will also facilitate the monitoring of all plans and details, particularly in view of Jokowi’s blusukan (impromptu visits), in which e-blusukan could be used in which people in the “visited” areas through long distance meetings also become the eyes and ears of the President.

Using this collaboration, we can imagine the scenarios of the next five years. For instance, a health worker in a village opens an application on his cell phone to input results of monitoring of services at the local health center.

Such input would then be tabulated by the Health Ministry to recapitalize and plan strategies for the improvement of health services. In such ways the “digital revolution” would bring leaders like Jokowi closer to the people.


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