How many people live in your home? It’s easy for you to answer, but not for the government. Today, that’s a problem.

Expand that problem across a nation of 270 million people living on 17,508 islands, and it’s a bigger one. How can the government understand the size of its population; or identify the most densely populated areas? Covid-19 makes this problem even more urgent as the government needs this data to manage its response.

President Jokowi introduced the Satu Data Indonesia policy in his first term to ensure that Indonesia had a single measurement of key datasets from population size to food supplies and medicine stockpiles. This involves unifying local and national datasets and digitising old paper records to get accurate answers to key questions so the government can make smart decisions.

Technical challenges

Cloudera’s expertise lies in unifying datasets and empowering nations to use data to tackle their problems; that our software is used by more than 40 governments and government agencies around the world is testament to this. Unifying datasets is always difficult. There are two key tasks – the technical as well as the human element.

On the technical side, the government must ensure that it stores all data in the same place. For a nation like Indonesia, that’s a huge undertaking so it requires a powerful system that can cope. This will become easier as major cloud providers prepare to set up data centres in the country.

What if the data looks different, however? West Papua may use data in completely different formats than Aceh. It’s vital to use a platform that can cope with every type of structured and unstructured data, like Cloudera, which works with all systems and datasets – because our customers must too.

Once it’s all in the same place, you can do really powerful things with it. Central banks like the Bank of England, use our technology to make decisions on a wide range of topics including interest rates. They base this on internal data and third-party data sources, such as the housing market and the number of jobs available. Getting this sensitive decision right is vital as we look to ensure the economy recovers from the shock of the Coronavirus.

In healthcare, authorities can use sensors to understand in real-time how busy hospitals are. IoT sensors track the bed availability and the waiting lists to help the government understand the spread of disease. This needs a powerful system to store it and ensure that other organisations with authority, can view the data to make decisions.

The human element

The second challenge is about each agency’s preference for technology. Agencies have often purchased expensive systems to store their data, and may have a preference for one supplier over another. ‘Why should I change my system, at my expense, to accommodate your data?’ is a commonly held refrain.

Cloudera eliminates this problem by pulling in the data from multiple sources and storing it easily on-premises or in the Cloud – regardless of the vendors you use for your other systems. We have interoperability built into our DNA. Coordination between government agencies, however, remains important to the ultimate success.

History has shown time and again how any organisation is only truly tested for its integration, cooperation and teamwork between its different departments in a time of crisis. The Indonesian public sector needs a single platform that supports the need for analytics that span the data lifecycle, and works across all clouds and data centres. It needs a solid data strategy that unifies data and provides consistent security and governance.

But it need not be too complicated if you choose a system that lets you use everything you currently own and works with all the cloud platforms you may consider in the future.

As the old Peter Drucker saying goes: “what gets measured gets managed”. Now, more than ever, it’s vital for Indonesia to have access to the right data to power the best possible response and the fastest possible recovery.

This article is by Fanly Tanto, Country Manager, and Fajar Muharandy, Lead Solution Engineer, for Cloudera in Indonesia.