Charted: Asia’s smart city units and digital services
Interactive map of all cutting-edge units in the region.
Governments - especially city governments - are creating startup style units to deliver services in new ways.
These units fall into two general buckets: teams using sensors, data and cameras to improve operations; and teams using digital tools to create new services and apps for citizens.
Indonesia is seeing a huge growth of smart city units, with new operations centres being launched seemingly every week. Digital services, meanwhile, are the preserve of more developed countries like Australia and Singapore.
GovInsider has mapped out all of the current digital services and smart city teams in the region. As we come across more, we’ll add them to our list.
1. Digital Transformation Office, Australia
The DTO was set up last year and leads the transformation of digital services across the government from its seat in the Prime Minister’s Office. It works with agencies to build services that can be rapidly scaled, builds digital expertise across the public sector and common platforms to make all of government more efficient.
The team is now working on Gov.AU, a portal for citizens to find information and services from across the government. The website will present information in new ways based on the way people use the information, rather than on internal government structures.
The department is led by Paul Shetler, who was previously director of the UK’s Government Digital Service team.
2. Efficiency Unit, Hong Kong
This unit is the Hong Kong government’s consultant for improving public services. One of its key projects has been 1823, a call centre to handle complaints and requests for information from citizens on government departments.
3. Office of Government Chief Information Officer, Hong Kong
The OGCIO supports government agencies across Hong Kong in their technology projects. The unit differs from others in the region in that it also leads strategies for how agencies should use technology.
4. Banda Aceh Smart City Centre, Indonesia
The city has just formed this new unit to respond to citizens’ complaints on public services. It will launch an app for citizens to report their feedback directly to the unit. The command centre will monitor data from across agencies, including transport, health, education and social welfare.
5. Bandung Command Centre, Indonesia
Bandung was one of the first cities in Indonesia to launch a command center that brings together data from across agencies. It also monitors citizens’ reports on social media and government apps to understand feedback on the quality of services
6. Jakarta Smart City Lounge, Indonesia
Jakarta’s Smart City Lounge is the headquarters for all of its smart city activities. The unit runs a command centre that will become the coordinate hub for all emergency responses across the city.
It also works with startups to improve digital services, instead of building its own apps. It is now working with six startups, including the makers of complaints app Qlue and food review app Qraved.
7. Makassar Mayor's War Room, Indonesia
Makassar launched its smart city unit to bring together data from health, sanitation, transport and emergency services. The city’s Mayor wants to use this data to improve public services.
One of its first initiatives will be a new plan to get public transport data. The government will pilot smart minivans with GPS trackers that can report location back to the command centre. The Mayor wants to reduce traffic congestion by persuading more people to use public transport.
8. Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit
MAMPU sits in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department and is responsible for improving digital services across the government.
Its key project now is to build a single government portal that will give access to information and services from across local and federal agencies. The government is also planning a new digital unit to work on this portal.
9. Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand
The department leads the country’s ‘Better Public Services’ to make it easier for citizens to access public services digitally. It has been behind the revamp of New Zealand’s single government portal, Govt.NZ, and continues to iteratively improve features on the website.
10. Government Digital Services, Singapore
Singapore’s digital service began as a secret startup in government, and today has a team of 100 people. It builds conceptual apps to help agencies test out their ideas, skipping the traditional government cycle.
The team has built pioneering new apps including Beeline for on-demand public transport; myResponder to alert first aiders to heart attacks; and OneService for citizen complaints.