How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I work as a User Experience Researcher (UXR) at Jabar Digital Service (JDS), a unit under the Communications and Information Technology Agency of the West Java Provincial Government. Its main function is to be a backbone for digital transformation in West Java. This unit is mandated with digital breakthrough programmes and initiatives, one of which is Ekosistem Data Jabar (West Java Data Ecosystem). It consists of West Java Open Data (Open Data Jabar), a website that provides public data service that can be accessed by the public; West Java One Data (Satu Data Jabar), a centralised system for civil servants in West Java Government Agencies to manage their internal, private, and public data; and West Java One Map (Satu Peta Jabar), a website that provides geospatial data service that can be accessed both by civil servants and also public.

For the past two years, I have been working for these three data-related products. As a UXR, I spend most of my time researching what are the users’ – in this case, West Java’s citizens specifically and civil servants in West Java’s Government Agencies – pain points related to public data discovery, as well as what are their needs and expectations regarding public data services. By discovering these points, as a UXR I need to make sure that the data service systems that we have developed can be relevant and beneficial for the users.

Based on the preliminary research, I found that the main problem that the citizens had about data discovery was that they did not know the one source of truth to get access to public data. Even if they knew, they would directly approach the related Government Agencies and still needed to go through a multilayered bureaucracy that used to take weeks or even months to process. Moreover, from the internal Government Agencies’ perspectives, it was found that their data management mostly had not been centralised and still depended on paper-based administrative processes for cross-department data sharing.

Thus, my team and I tried to solve these problems by establishing the data service systems called West Java One Data, which aimed to improve internal data management in West Java Government Agencies; and West Java Open Data, which was intended to help the public to get access to public data in West Java. Currently, over 2,000 datasets are stored and managed in West Java One Data; and over 1,800 public datasets can be accessed through West Java Open Data. By these initiatives, the data sharing process across Government Agencies can be processed in a short period. It also benefits the public because now they can freely access the public data through one source of data which only takes a minute to complete.

We always make sure that every product development decisions that we make are user-centric and based on data, that is why we continuously conduct research to evaluate the usability and performance of our data service products. As a UXR, I talked directly with the users to uncover their needs, feelings, struggles, and expectations in using our products. Furthermore, I analyse their voices as insights for evaluation and improvement points and then deliver these insights to the development teams to define the best solutions for providing a great user experience.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

It is hard to choose one as the projects that I have worked on this year are all necessary and impactful for both public and internal West Java Government Agencies. One of the research projects that I have worked on this year is evaluating the searching experience in West Java Open Data. It made us realise how powerful data provided in West Java Open Data is in helping the public’s needs. They now know where to go if they need data, and that makes their life easier because they do not need to face any kind of bureaucracy issues to get that.

But then, when it comes to solving users’ problems, there is no one size fits all. That is why we always try to implement user-centred design because by putting the user first, we can approach it from the angle of what the user actually needs.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021?

Most of all, I am grateful to be able to meet and talk with users from different backgrounds. I remember when I talked with a user, he once said that “Learning is a never-ending journey, having no formal higher education didn’t step me away from learning”, and I was impressed when he said that. It is also a kind reminder to myself to not waste the opportunities to learn new things.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

The pandemic has taught me how resilient people can be in unexpected ways. At first, there may be some concerns; nevertheless, we quickly acclimated to our new normal. Personally, one of the new normal things that I liked (and also feel grateful for) is the flexibility to work from home. This is one thing that I did not realise would happen back then when I started my career in 2019 and I was (and still) amazed at how our tasklist can be completed remotely!

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

I am excited to keep supporting the Government to focus on providing user-centered services. By carrying user research, we will be able to create ground-breaking products with a sound understanding of the needs and expectations of our users. Most importantly, we will have the data to define the strategy and decisions to provide services that are truly relevant to our users. Therefore, I will enhance my knowledge to learn many more user research techniques in order to do so.

What are your priorities for 2022?

In 2022, my team and I are looking to continuously develop user-centred data service products that will benefit not only internal West Java Government Agencies but also the public. We will focus on how to provide a better user experience and make sure the quality of the provided data is accurate and trustworthy. In addition, I will focus on scaling up targeted users from different sectors besides Academics and Data Professionals to discover their needs and expectations towards ideal public data services, specifically in West Java.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

I would say Luky Primadani, a User Design and Research practitioner who is based in Germany. Actually, she is not directly my mentor but I really admire her because of her outstanding achievements and experiences in user research and design fields. She always shares interesting and useful insights that always remind me of the importance of focusing on developing user-centric design in every piece of work that I do.

Speaking about a hero, I would consider myself as my own hero because I would see what I have gone through and do better than before. When I fall into despair, I can count on myself to get back up and cheer up. Only I know who I really am and therefore, I have come to believe that I am the hero of my own story.

What gets you up in the morning?

The first thought that comes to my mind is how to become a better version of myself on that day. I may simply find or learn something new to refresh my perspective on something that I was unaware of, or simply say this kind of positive affirmation to myself: “Hey, a wonderful day awaits me. Something great is going to happen today!”