Bogor city is bursting at the seams. Built for 100,000 people, it is now home to more than a million. Its young Mayor, Bima Arya Sugiarto, wants to make the best use of all that the city offers.

“The city is growing rapidly and the middle class is also growing,” he says. “On the other hand, our local budget is limited; our human resources are limited. There must be a way for some sort of leapfrogging to catch up with the opportunities.”

Mayor Sugiarto has made technology a priority to serve people, with Bogor one of the first cities to launch its smart city unit in Indonesia. “I believe that using a high level of technology can help us a lot – not only for improving the quality of public services but also for making the government more transparent”, he said.

GovInsider caught up with the Mayor on how he plans to use technology in the city.

Smart city priorities

The city launched a command centre called the “Bogor Green Room” last year from where the Mayor monitors public services. “It is much easier now for me to control and monitor projects in Bogor,” he says.

The Mayor’s smart city programme is focused on two areas – transportation and healthcare.

First, the Mayor wants to reduce traffic congestion in the city. “We have set up CCTV monitoring systems in 50 spots in Bogor from where we can monitor the traffic,” he says. The Mayor can see the feeds from these cameras in the Green Room. “It is really needed for me as a Mayor to monitor the traffic in real time.”

Second, the Mayor wants more data from clinics to the Green Room predict challenges in advance. “I can know in real-time the number of visitors, complaints, the drugs that are needed to anticipate shortcomings,” Mayor Sugiarto says.

Biggest challenge

The biggest challenge for Mayors across indonesia is finding the most productive use of their budgets, he said. And with Bogor’s local government budget of IDR 2 trillion (US$147.9 million), “it is important for the Mayor to ensure that everything is implemented in the proper way”, he says.

Bogor will this year launch a system for the mayor to monitor how every department is using its money. “I will know from each department the amount of money they have used, planned to use and what programmes cannot be implemented,” he said. He has made it compulsory for every department in the city to report into this system.

Learning from others

Over the last year, Indonesia’s largest cities have launched smart city initiatives, and this is no coincidence. Its Mayors have been working closely with each other, sharing notes on how to take their cities forward.

“We have a very good network among the young local leaders in indonesia,” Mayor Sugiarto says. “It’s important to learn lessons from other cities. This has been one of the most important things behind the idea of having smart city to improve public services”, he says.

But the former political science academic has had to do his own homework as well. “I’m not an IT guy. I have to learn so many things about technology. It is challenging and I am optimistic”, the Mayor says.

Mayor Sugiarto left academia behind to join the city hall, but the learning has not stopped. With Bogor’s fast growing population, the Mayor must continue looking for new ways to improve public services.