Hope for digital services in the Indonesia public sector - Juan Kanggrawan #FOI2024

By Juan Kanggrawan

Juan Kanggrawan, a technology and public sector transformation expert with leadership experience in Indonesia’s digital government, shares his hopes for the transformative impact of technology on the lives of Indonesian citizens. 

Juan Kanggrawan shared that after several years of preparation and pilot programmes during the COVID-19 period, Indonesia is now ready to push the GovTech initiative further. Image: Canva

In my career, I have interacted with and contributed to the following organisations in the public sector: Jakarta Smart City, GovTech Edu, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology in Indonesia, and Smart Nation Singapore. 


And I have done the same with these organisations in the social sector: Code4Nation, Bangkit Indonesia, Perhimpunan Indonesia (The Indonesian Association), and Data Science Indonesia.  


My hopes for the advancement and prosperity of Indonesian citizens, by leveraging the power of technology, especially in the public sector, are simple.

Indonesia has existing formal institutions that cover the domain of research and technology. Notable examples are the Centre of Data & Information Technology, the Provincial Communication and Information Office, the National ICT Council, and several national ministries (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ministry of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform, and Ministry of State-owned Enterprises).  


Since 2010, there have been various initiatives around smart city, e-government, and digital services in various provinces, such as in Jakarta, West Java, East Java, South Sulawesi, North Sumatera, and so on. These initiatives have received public attention and delivered exciting initial results. 


From the 2020s onwards, the notion of a “GovTech Indonesia” was attracting greater interest. From the conceptual perspective, the idea of GovTech is not new or extraordinary. GovTech agencies have been established in various countries, such as Singapore and India, and in Europe.  


In principle, we want to leverage technology in Indonesia’s public sector context (especially in bureaucracy), and scale-up positive impact for our citizens.


Some formal discussions and ideations even started in 2015. After several years of preparation and pilot programmes during the COVID-19 period, Indonesia is now ready to push the GovTech initiative further. 

Notable highlights 

Considering our recent history, there are various exciting initiatives that we can learn about. In this section, I do not have personal intention to specifically promote any institution. Throughout my professional, research and volunteer journey, here are some exciting developments (at the national and provincial levels) that I can share:

  • Citizen response and management system that compiles, analyses and manages daily operational “aspirations”, or feedback, from the citizens. It receives 10,000 to 15,000 monthly aspirations that are allocated to more than 100 government agencies for further follow-up and corrective actions. Benefit: Ability to systematically compile and follow-up every aspiration from citizens with clear accountability and service quality (speed & result). 
  • Various Super App initiatives that integrate key services and features into a single application. These initiatives have been implemented at the national and provincial level that cover domains such as healthcare, education, citizenship and transportation. Benefit: Citizens are able to access key services through a single app, and do not need to download or open multiple apps or websites.
  • One Data Policy that encourages and guides robust data management at national & provincial dashboard. Key results include standardised metadata and data catalogue, an integrated data portal, and clear data-related responsibilities. Benefit: Ability to deliver concrete digital solutions for citizens based on trusted & reliable data.
  • Concrete production level predictive model that anticipates various trends related to flood occurrence, traffic pattern, COVID-19 spread, school performance, tax revenue, air quality, and citizen aggregate movement patterns. Benefit: Ability to anticipate and prevent incidents and provide pro-active & anticipatory services to citizens.
  • Contact tracing (network analysis) for COVID-19 and relevant targeted social-aid distribution based on specific citizen demography and needs. Benefit: Ability to systematically understand the spread of disease and provide targeted and accurate aid to the citizens. 

Future ambitions 

Technology and innovation are constantly developing and changing rapidly. There are always new ways to solve challenges and rethink our existing approach. In 2024, artificial intelligence has received significant attention and shown exciting developments.  


Any modern technology can be seen and tackled from various dimensions, such as research, innovation, economics, policy, ethics, and international relations. Hence, there needs to be collaborations with various stakeholders and institutions. 


In conclusion, I have several hopes for the future.  Firstly, I hope government officials have the mindset to explore, learn, experiment and adopt new relevant technologies to provide better solutions for our citizens.


Secondly, I hope we can build on previous innovation efforts - at the national and provincial level- and combine them with the latest technological developments.  


By doing this, we can accumulate and ensure the continuation of our innovation efforts. Specific to GovTech Indonesia, I really wish for exciting and concrete developments in the next 10 to 15 years so that there will be significant benefits for our citizens and relevant stakeholders. 


As a closing note, I am happy to have witnessed several initial AI-based solutions and success stories. Typically, the implementations in public sector cover video analytics (e.g. CCTV), image processing (citizen aspiration analysis), chatbots, digitalisation of physical documents, and AI recommendation systems for routes, hospitals, learning materials, and more.


Moving forward, Indonesia's public sector should seriously and systematically prepare the fundamental building blocks for AI, such as data management, data privacy, AI ethics, local AI talent pool, and technical infrastructure.  


For relevant existing policies, such as the national policy for personal data, we should properly comprehend and execute these policies consistently across stakeholders in the ecosystem, including government, industry, universities, and social organisations. 


*Juan Kanggrawan is a technology and public-sector transformation expert, and Head of Research & Data Analytics at Jakarta Smart City. He is writing this article in his personal capacity and is not representing any institution.  


Juan will be speaking in a panel exploring strategies to ensure the safety and resilience of AI technologies in government applications at GovInsider’s Festival of Innovation 2024 happening from 26 to 27 March 2024 in Singapore.  

The event is free to attend for all government and public sector agencies. Register now!