Much of Bandung’s brand as a creative and academic hub has been built by its tech-savvy former Mayor and now Governor of the region, Ridwan Kamil. He set up a vision to boost the speed of public service delivery and run a more efficient government, aided by a centralised smart city platform that combines data from across departments.

But with data consolidated in one place, the city government runs the risk of cyber security breaches, as the city’s tech chief explains. “Data centralisation and security system – that is our big challenge,” says Ahyani Raksanagara, Head of Bandung City Government’s ICT Department.

Her key concern is that a breach will disrupt the city’s services, with hackers locking officials out of the system and getting unauthorised access to data. “That is the big issue – so people cannot use the system because of the hackers.”

A hack on the system could potentially affect the city’s ability to monitor weather and flooding patterns, for instance. Flooding is a common problem in the West Java capital, especially during the monsoon season from October to March.

In March 2019, the city faced one of its worst floods, affecting more than 22,000 households, according to Antara News. The tech department gets CCTV streams and sensor data from across the city, which it then analyses to aid with disaster management.

The city conducts annual tests on the system to check its security and collaborates with universities and the national cyber agency to get guidance on security. “We have made a plan to check regularly every year the strategic systems for security.”

But Bandung requires a comprehensive improvement to better secure its data, she adds. “We have to improve the regulation for data management, human resources capacity, infrastructure, and standardisation of applications and systems to guarantee security.” The city plans to regulate data management and standardise IT systems and infrastructure, she says.

The city government lacks cybersecurity experts, she adds, despite Bandung being home to one of the best-ranked tech universities in the country. It is looking for partners to step up training for officials. “We don’t have any expert so we collaborate with the national cyber agency and provide workshops for IT officers.”

Much of the city’s budget planning and procurement is also tracked and managed digitally. The city believes that this will cut down on corruption because planning and budgeting decisions will be recorded digitally, and only authorised officials can access and open the system, Raksanagara says. “People cannot change or put in something or delay projects because it is already in the digital system.”