Open Data to Support Academic Work in Indonesia

October 22, 2013

  • Broader access to data and knowledge resources promotes better-informed decisions and measures improvements more accurately.
  • Under the Open Data initiative, the World Bank is providing access to data on development and its knowledge products.
  • The Bank’s Open Data is helping students and faculty members across Indonesia with new sources for research.

Manado, INDONESIA – Students at Sam Ratulangi University in Manado, North Sulawesi, some two thousand kilometers away from Indonesia's capital Jakarta, knew little about the World Bank, much less its Open Data initiative. A recent seminar about the Bank’s Open Data initiative at the campus site helped students and faculty members become aware of the wealth of information readily available for them – information that is free and easy to use.

Student Aldo Wirhanoyo likes the program for making access to data more ‘democratic’.  “I very much agree with this initiative, particularly for university students who really need data for essays and analysis,” says Wirhanoyo.

According to Feky Masinambow, a lecturer at the School of Economics, previously students and faculty relied heavily on printed materials for data.  Now he plans to reorient his lesson plans around the website.  “I plan to assign my students to look for data from the World Bank, and put together analysis based on the data they find,” he said.

Robert Winerungan, a lecturer from the Manado State University, says he has used data from other sources for his work, but that Open Data has added value. “What I like about the Bank’s Open Data website is that it allows people to compare data with other countries, so that people can learn how Indonesia’s economy has fared better than other countries,” he says.

Both students and lecturers agree that the initiative opens new avenues for research methods – for the better.

“My only input is that it should also be available in the Indonesian language, so that those with poor English competency can understand the data clearly,” he added.

Statistics and data are vital to academic research. A reason why similar seminars to introduce the World Bank’s Open Data held in other universities across the country have always garnered great interest.

" What I like about the Bank’s Open Data website is that it allows people to compare data with other countries, so that people can learn how Indonesia’s economy has fared better than other countries "

Robert Winerungan

Lecturer from the Manado State University

Growth of mobile apps and online knowledge products

Like in other cities around the world, smartphones are becoming more common in Manado. “Now there are many cafes and hangout spots which provide a Wi-Fi connection, so that we can get connected using our cellphones and gadgets,” says university student Laiya.

Increasing smart phone use and a steady rise in the number of internet users – currently at 15 percent of the population – has widened the audience for mobile phone apps, including the Open Data mobile phone app.

In fact, Indonesia is the number one source of downloads for the Android-supported version of the World Bank Group Finances app.

Indonesia is also a big audience of the World Bank Open Knowledge Repository (OKR). Since its launch in April 2012, the OKR has included more than 9,200 research publications, all of which can be freely downloaded. Indonesia ranks eight amongst other countries around the world in terms of number of downloads from this site.

Broader access to data and knowledge resources allows policymakers and advocacy groups to make better-informed decisions and measure improvements more accurately. They are also valuable tools to support research by journalists, academia and others, thus broadening understanding of global issues.