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Jakarta Post

Digital solutions sought to create good governance

  • Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 23, 2015   /  08:50 am

The government has invited hundreds of IT specialists from across the country to develop digital solutions to enable more efficient and transparent governance.

 As part of an ongoing effort to realize President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo'€™s campaign promise of implementing e-governance, the Office of the Presidential Staff (KSP) is hosting the country'€™s first ever nationwide '€œhackathon'€ with the aim of crowdsourcing digital application concepts that will assist in the gathering of accurate data that could serve as a foundation for more effective policies.

 The KSP has teamed up with Indonesian IT community Code4Nation to host Hackathon Merdeka, a competition where around 460 programmers from across the archipelago and beyond, work in teams to develop the best concept for an application that will enable a more transparent and efficient collection of data on commodity prices '€” such as rice, beef and sugar '€” from all over the country.

'€œThe state is currently struggling to control the price of commodities, so we made the goal of the Hackathon to find a solution that is accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive, so that public officials can implement the best possible strategy,'€ said Agung Nugroho, a digital startup entrepreneur and spokesperson for the Code4Nation community.

 Code4Nation is an amalgamation of IT communities best known for the creation of the crowdsourced public monitoring website, kawalpemilu.org.

 Agung said that the use of technology was the most efficient way to deal with complex problems, as Indonesia was fast becoming a technologically literate and well-connected nation. '€œThis will become an early initiative for the government to empower the public to help solve the nation'€™s strategic issues,'€ he said on Saturday.

 Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the newly inaugurated coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister officially opened the program on Saturday.

 Luhut said that harnessing technology was an effective way to cut out the middlemen, who often manipulated commodity prices in the field for personal gain. '€œI hope that all of you will help us fight those who are motivated by self-enrichment,'€ he said in his opening speech.

 Beyond the very specific goal of the competition, the government is also using this opportunity to empower the public.

According to Darmawan Prasodjo, the KSP'€™s deputy for project regulations, the two-day event is an attempt to '€œchannel the productive spirit and idealism'€ of the wider population, many of whom are intent on supporting national development initiatives.

'€œ[The goal is] to channel the idealism of the many components of society toward a productive spirit of national development,'€ Darmawan told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the competition in Jakarta on Saturday.

Darmawan said that the government aimed to create synergy among different components of society, which in turn would help deliver public services.

He said that not only would the competition and its resulting application reduce the cost of data gathering by shifting from a periodic, sample-based method to a crowdsourced one, it would also allow programmers to feel good about themselves.

'€œIf programmers can see that they are able to be part of the '€˜good force'€™ to make their country better, this will satisfy their need for self-actualization,'€ he said, adding that this would then lead to more innovation and growth. '€œWe need to help the younger generation innovate, whatever they do and wherever they are.'€

 The Hackathon Merdeka runs for two days from Aug. 22 to 23 at the Krida Bhakti building in the State Secretary'€™s Office complex in Jakarta. The top three teams with the best application concepts will have their designs further developed for use by government institutions. President Jokowi is expected to officially close the event himself.

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