West Java is Indonesia’s most densely populated area with close to 50 million people living across urban and rural areas. Governor Ridwan Kamil has a grand vision – to transform the area into a Smart Province, as it ramps up on infrastructure development.

The governor has recruited Setiaji, Jakarta’s former Smart City chief, as his digital adviser. His vision is to make West Java a leader in digital government services. “The challenge for me is how to support our governor to make West Java the champion in the world when it comes to being a digital province.”

In his first week on the job, Setiaji spoke with GovInsider on his plans to build a digital service team; work with startups; and the six key areas of reform.

Building a single platform for digital services

Setiaji plans to set up a government digital agency team modelled on GovTech leaders like the UK. “The target is to build digital services faster for every agency.”

The team will build platforms that can be used across agencies. “Like UK or Estonia, this platform is the base for agile service delivery.” He wants to build microservices – which are modular services built for specific tasks but allow a large number of services to be delivered on a single platform.

Another key area of work for the digital service team will be to build an open-API platform. The interface will allow different government agencies to share and reuse data. The team will also set standards for security and privacy across the provincial government.

He believes he can recruit Indonesians from across the country and also overseas to his team to help rebuild West Java. “I will influence young people to come and develop West Java.”

The team will be structured like any other tech startup, he says, including product managers, developers and data scientists.

Starting with startups

Like he did in Jakarta, Setiaji will work closely with local startups in West Java. In his previous job, this allowed his team to deliver services much faster by using platforms and data from companies and integrating them with government services. “We want to set up a hub for the startup community to develop applications and help government solve problems.”

He is keen to work with startups like Grab, Tokopedia, and Bukalapak. “We want to use Grab to get information about potholes.” He believes that Grab’s app can be used to collect data on broken streets and potholes using the gyrometer features on smartphones. In December 2018, Bukalapak, an e-commerce platform announced that it’s working with the West Java province to develop digital payments for government services.

Water quality is another area that startups can help with. The Citarum river is the longest and largest river in West Java, and is often called the most polluted river in the world because of chemical runoffs from factories and unmonitored dumping. Setiaji wants to use IoT to track and improve water quality.

Six key focus areas

He has six key areas of focus to accelerate digital services in West Java.

The first is data and information. “We need to build an infrastructure to support data gathering,” says the ICT head. Next is building up an infrastructure which includes a cloud system and a command center.

Thirdly, Setiaji wants to build a masterplan for a network to ensure that data can flow from agencies across the province from rural areas to the capital. He also wants to equip civil servants by improving their digital literacy. Setiaji wants to identify tech champions in West Java to move this forward.

In addition, he wants to Improve the way that tech budget is used. ICT is a strategic department, says Setiaji. “Every budget proposal should be approved or recommended by our organisation in planning stages,” which means the department is well placed to provide the budget and collaboration of each application. Finally, it is to build a website which integrates services from across the government.

These six focus areas, along with collaborating with startups, and building up its digital service agency are to Setiaji what it takes to build a Smart Province. His formula for success is to take good ideas from elsewhere, partner with others, and deliver rapid changes to service delivery.