The Governor of Jakarta yesterday asked all officials to use citizens’ complaints in deciding where they should spend money. In parallel, Malaysia is launching a new scheme that asks all cities in the country to monitor citizens’ complaints. Which is why this week we are looking at the open data on citizens’ complaints.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia all have apps for citizens to complaints, but of these only Indonesia is publishing data publicly.

At the local level, complaints can help officials allocate budgets, as the Governor pointed out. This can be done by location, looking at where most complaints are reported. Or it can be done by agency, looking at what kind of complaints are the most common. In Jakarta, road violations and garbage are the top complaints from citizens.

Officials can discover new ways to solve these problems by looking at correlations between different kinds of complaints. For example, crime in Jakarta is being reported in neighbourhoods where there are broken streetlights.

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Next, it could help monitor officials’ performance and quality of services. For city mayors, this could mean looking at agencies across the city – which one gets the most complaints?

At the federal level, senior officials can monitor and compare quality across cities. For Indonesia, this is becoming increasingly important as the President’s Office looks to expand its national complaints service, Lapor. The federal government has a new data plan to mandating cities to connect with Lapor, with Banda Aceh the first city to get on the plan .

All of this can be done by officials even if the data isn’t public. But making complaints data open is a great communications strategy. It lets citizens know that officials are working on the complaints they have raised, which could improve their trust in the government.

For example, Jakarta has colour coded its complaints based on their status – red for those that have not been responded to, yellow for the ones in progress, green for the ones that have been fixed.

Here are links to all of the open data on complaints from Indonesia:

Top image by BxHxTxCx, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0