Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 January 2017 – Setiaji, Head of the Jakarta Smart City Management Unit, recalls how difficult it was to obtain government data when he was a college student.
“I literally had to go to several different offices. Data is everywhere, but when we need them, we have to go everywhere.”
Now, as part of the Jakarta Government, he regards making better use of data as his personal mission.
“Pass on the Quran, even if only one verse,” said Setiaji, citing the holy book when offering an example of knowledge transfer. “So, on data, also pass it on, even if only one piece of data.”
Indonesia’s open data journey
Indonesia’s movement to open up its government started in 2008, when, in an effort to promote good governance and transparency, the country passed the Public Information Disclosure Act.
“This law created a paradigm shift. Data which was previously closed by default, and were only made public when requested, became open by default,” said Tara Hidayat, former Deputy Minister at the Presidential Delivery Unit, the agency which started Indonesia’s open government movement.
In 2011, Indonesia became one of the eight countries who initiated the Open Government Partnership, to promote governments to take concrete actions towards enhancing transparency, accountability and citizen empowerment. The current government of President Joko Widodo continues to actively support the initiative, through the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff.
The push for more transparent government is inevitable in modern Indonesia.
“Indonesia’s growing democracy created a stronger voice demanding more transparency,” Tara Hidayat added.
To boost Indonesia’s open government movement, the country’s first step was to enable open data – providing public access to more government data in easy-to-use format. The government saw the benefits of open data, not only for increasing transparency and accountability, but also to improve service delivery through public participation, and to promote social and economic innovations by citizens.
The World Bank supported the initiative by providing technical support, including establishing the country’s online One Data Portal, to serve as a “one-stop shop” for data from across the government. The Bank also helped efforts to encourage central government agencies, as well as local governments, to participate in the open data movement. Competitions and events were held to raise public awareness about the availability of government data and stimulate its use.
In 2014, the data portal – data.go.id – opened to the public. Currently, the portal has made available over 1,200 datasets provided by 32 central and local government institutions. Following the national government’s lead, some local governments have even launched their own open data portals in Jakarta, Bandung and Banda Aceh.
The current government administration is now preparing a presidential decree on open data, allowing the public greater access to data and to standardize data generation process in government institutions.