Jakarta’s Smart City Unit attracts the youthful. In a high-tech HQ, young officials sit in a command centre, comb through social media complaints to address residents’ reports, and share their office with startups and citizens.

It’s all part of the city’s plan to attract the young to drive digital services and improve public service delivery. Jakarta’s Governor Ahok has told GovInsider that he wants “people who are smarter, more creative, and have more new ideas than me” – he wants young recruits in government.

GovInsider has awarded these young hires the best team under 35 at Innovation Labs World for their contribution to the city government.

What do they do?

The Smart City Unit is responsible for using tech to improve transparency. Data is key to this, and they first worked on pulling complaint data, traffic patterns, and CCTV feeds on an interactive map so citizens could track the performance of their government online.

Complaints come from three channels – emails, social media, and Qlue – which are addressed directly by the team, or passed on to other agencies when jurisdiction varies. The team chases after agencies for actions if they are slow to respond.

The smart city team also work with private start-ups to build digital services for citizens. Among these are Qlue, a complaints app; iJakarta, an e-book reader; Qraved, an app to locate restaurants; Appaja, a public bus app; and Ragunan Zoo, to guide visitors through Jakarta’s zoo.

Ahok has asked government officials to use Qlue to plan their budgets. The app allows users to submit complaints on services managed by the city government, and the team then assigns frontline officials to respond to the complaints.

Meanwhile, iJakarta is a digital library that was set up to nurture an interest in reading among Jakartans. The app now stores 12,000 book titles from different genres, and has more than 65,000 users.

Growing reputation

The team are also providing technical training to six other city administrations on how to use the app and synthesise data collected to improve public services.

The team is working on a one-stop portal that will pool all digital services. Separately, they are developing an API so the public can build new platforms and apps that will easily integrate with the portal.

A youthful team has injected a new energy into a city government once renowned for corruption and bureaucracy. Congratulations to Jakarta City Hall.

Innovation Labs World is a festival of public service innovation organised by GovInsider. It was held on 27 September in Singapore.