West Java is lauded as one of Indonesia’s most scenic provinces, from pristine beaches and rice paddy fields to lush, volcanic panoramas. Home to 48 million citizens, the country’s largest province by population is famous for its agricultural produce and booming tourism industry.

But Ridwan Kamil, the province’s new governor, has a greater vision for West Java. “We are trying to transform West Java province into a more smart province,” shared Arfiana Rafnialdi (pictured above), the governor’s advisor, at the Indonesia Star Provinces Panel of Innovation Labs World.

“This is the new vision of the government. We call it ‘juara’, which means champion. We’re trying to put this spirit in West Java, because we want to be the champion of Indonesia,” he added.

Lessons from Bandung

The governor’s team is taking lessons from West Java’s capital city Bandung, where Kamil served as mayor prior to his role as governor. “We are trying to take what we learnt from our experience in Bandung to West Java province,” Rafnialdi remarked.

As the Mayor of Bandung, Kamil was a strong advocate for using technology to improve public service delivery. He set up the Bandung Command Centre, a data hub that uses cameras and apps to collect live data from the streets and citizens, so officials can manage the city better – similar to Hangzhou’s “City Brain” in China.

For instance, the centre uses videos captured by the city’s 115 cameras to alert officials to illegal hawkers, illegal parking and other traffic violations in real-time. The hub even records the birth weights of the city’s newborn babies in real time.

The command centre also improves coordination on emergency services. A mobile app connects citizens that need help to operators at the command centre. In emergencies, citizens can push an SOS button on the app thrice to reach an operator, who then tracks the caller’s location and dispatches police to the scene. The entire process takes 10 minutes.

The mayor-turned-governor’s team is looking to extend these tech-driven policies from Bandung towards the rest of the province. “A smart province is something we have to aspire to: a new, faster government [that is] more efficient and open,” Rafnialdi said.

Tracking performance with complaints

Last month, the governor’s office launched a province-wide public complaints app, where citizens can submit their feedback on public services to provincial officials. This move is part of a wider push to build “e-government apps to help the people to connect to the government easily”, Rafnialdi shared.

The Governor is using public feedback as a measure of civil servants’ performance – an approach that was made popular by Ahok, the former Governor of Jakarta. “If we don’t have this kind of system, sometimes our officers feel that we are doing just fine,” Rafnialdi noted.

Civil servants use feedback from citizens to identify which public services they need to improve. “When they read the complaints, they know that our speed of public service is still slow, so on and forth,” he added. The app has received 600 daily complaints, which are read by provincial officials.

One important function of the app is as a helpline for civilians suffering from major emergencies, like the collapse of their homes – a common problem in earthquake-prone West Java. Citizens can either text the helpline or leave an online comment, and following which, officials will contact them to offer the help they need.

The blueprint

In August, the governor’s office established a temporary working team that worked with citizens to create a five-year blueprint for the province. The “Optimisation and Synchronisation Team” held over 200 meetings and set up an online platform that collected policy ideas from close to 600 professionals, including doctors and academics. Following this blueprint, more than 700 programmes will be launched over the next five years across the province, with innovations in agriculture, education and other key sectors.

However, it will be harder to adopt tech-driven policies in rural areas, as they are not equipped with the same physical and digital infrastructure as cities like Bandung, according to Rafnialdi. “The challenge in West Java province is between the urban and rural situation. Implementing the smart government in rural areas would be quite challenging,” he said.

But the governor’s office is keen to bridge this digital divide for rural citizens. They plan to introduce smart technologies to farmers, such as satellites that locate fishes, and having digital transactions for agricultural produce.

In the next five years, West Java’s smart province plans will unfold. The vision is that public services will be driven by citizen feedback, while farmers can look to become as digitally-connected as residents in Bandung.

Read more coverage of Innovation Labs World 2018 here.