Tri Rismaharini is known for her hands-own approach. The Mayor of Surabaya is sometimes spotted picking up litter from the city’s streets. Her career began in the city’s parks department, and – ever since – she has been campaigning to clean up Surabaya.

Rismaharini has achieved strong results, and a fair few trophies, for the outcome of her work. The city has more parks, fewer brothels, and better sanitation.

Her first term is now complete, and as she stepped down, she spoke with GovInsider about how she uses data to measure and improve city performance.

Disaster management

One of the biggest challenges she faced in office was dealing with the crash of Air Asia flight QZ8501 last December. The flight departed from Surabaya, and 155 passengers were Indonesian.

Mayor Rismaharini relied on the city’s data management systems. Officials used medical records to identify victims, and household data to contact families – at home and overseas.

She is known for her tech-focussed administration. Rismaharini always keeps an iPad close by so she can monitor the city on the move. The device can monitor “all of our systems which use information technology”, she says, including traffic, healthcare, poverty eradication, building permits, budgets, cleanliness and disasters.

Her office has also been fitted with three 40 inch screens that show live footage from CCTV cameras installed at road intersections. This helps her keep track of emergency response times and city sanitation programmes.

Better collaboration

This year, her priority has been to improve data sharing across agencies. Last month, she launched a new system that allows citizens to report emergencies through a single number – 112. “The system will record and directly inform the officials to handle the situation,” Rismaharini says. It “integrates several stakeholders which are responsible for handling disasters”, including the police, fire, health, sanitation, roads and IT departments.

Surabaya also plans to use data to track services for the poor. The system will integrate population, poverty, healthcare and employment data. Sub-district officials will then be able to use it to monitor progress in poverty eradication, Rismaharini says.

The former head of Surabaya’s parks department also keeps close tabs on the city’s cleanliness. She monitors the officials in charge and tracks the refuse trucks, she says.

The story of her first term has been one of gadgets, data, and cross-cutting initiatives. All with a spot of greenery thrown in for good measure.