A massive infrastructure gap in Indonesia will require US$600 billion of investment to catch up, according to the OECD. It is also an area “prone to corruption”, which means projects can be slowed down and the quality compromised.

Researchers in Indonesia are exploring whether crowdsourcing can help improve management and verify the quality of infrastructure projects.

“Existing project verification approaches by infrastructure programmes use a random sampling method to deploy engineers. Inevitably a few poor quality roads and irresponsible contractors slip through the net,” write Awan Aristo and George Hodge from Pulse Lab Jakarta – a United Nations organisation.

The lab is working with Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative and Premise, an analytics tool on the project.

They are using a network of reporters, engaged through social media, to collect data on infrastructure projects using an app. Participants get a monetary incentive in return. The approach is being tested in three road infrastructure projects in Lombok island of Indonesia.

The surveyors report on nine different areas including road surface work, bridge repairs, drain maintenance and vegetation handling. The test projects were picked such that surveyors would not require expert knowledge to collect data.

“The approach clearly has potential to scale across Indonesia and to significantly reduce the costs of road project verification,” the researchers wrote.

In the next phase of the experiment, the lab will look at whether engineers based in Jakarta can use the data to verify the completion of the project. Questions in the survey may need to tweaked and additional information may be needed to ensure the data is reliable, they wrote.

Researchers will also need to study how much surveyors should be paid to incentivise data collection.

Image by Franklin HeijnenCC BY-SA 2.0