Indonesia promotes the use of data for policymaking
By Masyitha Baziad March 2, 2017
- Has huge potential as there is currently very little utilisation of social and digital data
- Indonesia is pushing the SatuData initiative but more data-related skills needed
AS THE largest economy in the Southeast Asia (SEA), Indonesia is one of the founding members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative to promote transparency, fight corruption and harness new technology to strengthen government.
However, in the October 2016 Indonesia Open Government Review, it is stated that the efforts to push towards open data and the harnessing of technology remains sluggish and incomplete.
“More connected and informed constituencies are demanding more tailored and agile interactions with the public administration, more effective policies, and improved public-sector performance.
“Indonesia needs to address the digital divide to ensure smooth digitally-enabled participation from the citizen, and this requires significant levels of investment,” the report stated.
At The International Conference of Data Revolution for Policy Makers in Jakarta recently, Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro (pic above) aknowledged this issue, saying that the government needs to act faster to meet the people’s demands.
“The ability of policymakers to take advantage of various data sources, including digital and social data, can help the government to make decisions faster, and more accurately.
“High quality data will provide the right information for policymakers to design, monitor, and evaluate policies,” he said.
The conference was held by Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development, as well as UN Global Pulse’s regional hub for big data and research and development, Pulse Lab Jakarta.
Bambang who was a former Minister of Finance explained that each government body needs to further utilise social data to complement historical data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
“Our BPS has done a tremendous job all these years, and it keeps improving the method and data over time. However, with the demand and pressure of the public who want real-time data and policy response, we now urgently need to also look at social data,” he said in a press conferece.
“In a society that is now no longer linear, statistics data will not serve the purpose as well as social data. Statistics data is historical, it worked well many years ago to predict the future, but now, we need real-time data,” he added.
According to 2017 Digital Yearbook published by WeAreSocial and Hootsuite, Indonesia has 132.7 million internet users, of which almost 80% or about 106 million are active on social media.
From this number, around 90% use Facebook, 85% use YouTube, 70% Twitter, and 55% use Google+.
“As the country that produces a great deal of social data each day, we should be able to leverage on the data now or we will get left behind,” Bambang continued.
He said that now, each government body has started to look at social data, although it is still in silos, and project-based.
Bambang also added that for now, the Indonesian government will not appoint or form a special agency that specialises in data collection, cleaning, and analysing.
“Becoming a data driven government is a must-have trait for every government body, so what we are trying to do now is promote data utilisation for policymaking to every leader of every city, and province. We want to see more governors and mayors embarking on this initiative on their own,” he emphasised.
He added that each government body has its own data scientists and analysts who are able to meet their needs but are still underutilised.
“We have great data analysts and scientists in the country working for the government. This should give us a competitive edge to embark on this journey,” he added.
End to data disputes
It is not surprising to find huge gaps in the same data sets presented by two different government bodies in Indonesia.
Deputy chief of staff for analysis and oversight of strategic issues, Yanuar Nugroho (pic above) admitted that this was so, especially when the President office was trying to implement the OneData (SatuData) initiatives.
“I remember last year when we wanted to conduct a pilot project on SatuData for fish carriers, the Ministry of Transport said that there are 15,000 ships, but when we looked at data from the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries there were 640,000 ships. The gap was too big to be true,” he said in a panel discussion.
According to Yanuar, this happens because there is no metadata available and there is also lack of standardisation in order to simplifying measurements and monitoring.
“The government is often faced with agencies ‘overestimating’ targets, simply because the method used by our BPS and other ministries are different and there is no data integration,” he added.
President Joko Widodo has instructed all government bodies to support the SatuData initiative, which aims to have a level of standard compliance, accessibility, availability and interoperability of data in the government sector. Data which comes from the public will be open and available in an open data format.
“We do not want to repeat the old practices in which planning and budgeting were abundant, but was not connected or synchronised.
“This shall never happen again. Planning from now on should be integrated, consolidated, organised between sectors, regions, between central and local government,” Jokowi said in his speech at a Cabinet Meeting in April last year.
Yanuar added that this year the government will focus on preparing and issuing the Presidential Regulation on SatuData which will be the base for data integration in the government.