Jakarta Governor Sees a Great City With Solvable Problems

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Jakarta is a special city, and it needs a special way of thinking to solve its myriad problems, Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said at the opening of a global summit on the future of cities.
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Among the challenges facing this metropolis of around 10 million people are mind-boggling gridlock, a gross lack of housing, green space, sanitation and access to clean water. Mr. Purnama says he has plans to tackle them all. He has started by trimming down the number of civil servants in government, putting the city budget online to increase transparency and banning the use of motorbikes on certain roads to reduce congestion.

He is working with Google maps and Waze to monitor and track activities across the sprawling capital and has been promoting cashless transactions to cut down on corruption. He’s also attempting to improve safety, particularly for women, by looking at various mobile apps used in other countries, like SafetiPin from India, which crowdsources and maps areas of a city and provides them with a safety score.

Jakarta was chosen to host this year’s New Cities Summit because it represents some of the key challenges and opportunities faced by rapidly growing urban centers, say its organizers. Here are four ways Mr. Purnama says he plans to address those issues in the remaining two years of his term.

Develop parks for sharing and caring
The government aims to grow the amount of green space in Jakarta from 10% to 30% in the next few years. Mr. Purnama says it’s not just about developing parks and lush areas, but getting people to stay there and enjoy them. They need to be child-friendly, integrated public parks, the governor says. So far the city has built six, and it aims to complete another 54 by the end of the year. In 2016, 150 such parks will be added, he said. To make sure the public gets what they want from these spaces, the government is doing social mapping along with academics from the University of Indonesia. Depending on the feedback it gets, parks could include libraries, women’s clubs, badminton or designated music corners. Mr. Purnama says the goals is to create “clubs” for poor urban dwellers so they have a community for “sharing and caring” for each other.

Bring in the best buses
In January, Jakarta set up PT Transportasi Jakarta, which took over the operations of the rapid transit bus system known as TransJakarta from the city’s transportation agency. Jakarta currently has no mass rapid transit system and the strains put on its public buses have increased amid growing demand. In recent months, passengers have complained about long wait times and buses in need of repairs. Mr. Purnama said the company is working with local producers to procure more buses and is importing some top-of-the-line brands from abroad. This July, the city will see the first delivery of 20 articulated Scania buses from Sweden and also has orders in for brands such as Volvo and BMW. “We want number one buses,” to ensure longevity he said. “Because we don’t have enough money to purchase another when it breaks.” The city also aims to cut wait times between buses to 10 minutes and phase out old models, Mr. Purnama said.

Surveillance management
To improve the quality of public services in Jakarta, the city is using various technology applications such as Qlue, a crowsourcing mobile app that allows users to report incidents such as flooding or fire to local officials, and CROP, an app that allows officials to respond to those reports. It’s part of a wider “smart city” program launched late last year and includes citywide monitoring through CCTV, which eventually will be live on the smart city website. Mr. Purnama said Jakarta will install 6,000 CCTVs around the city by the end of 2016 to provide footage in realtime. He calls the monitoring an important way to keep tabs on city employees  and hold them accountable when things don’t get done. He’s also looking to sub-district heads to allocate people in their areas to manage everything from garbage to lighting to floods. “I want them acting like estate managers,” Mr. Purnama said. “We want to use the best technology and the latest technology, we want to do a leapfrog,” he said.

Cashless payments to stamp out slums
Jakarta’s housing agency has set an ambitious target of providing 50,000 low-cost residences by 2017. So far, 6,000 have been filled with residents relocated from slums and squatter areas since last year. The apartments come rent-free; residents merely pay a service charge of between 50 cents and $1 per day. The problem, says Mr. Purnama, is people often chose to rent them out to make a profit. The solution, he says, is to link their address with their bank account. When residents move into a new low-cost apartment they’ll have to open a savings account to pay their daily service charge. Their ATM card will become their identity card, he said.

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