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EXCLUSIVE – Real-time prices, crowdsourced data – Transparency through ICT

EXCLUSIVE - Real-time prices

(Image: Mr. Bambang Wisnubroto (left) and Mr. Eka Putuasduki (right) from the Ministry of Trade, Indonesia at the OpenGov Leadership Breakfast Dialogue on the 4th of August in Jakarta.)

OpenGov spoke to Bambang Wisnubroto, Division Head of ICT Development and Management and Eka Putuasduki, Sub Division Head of Applications System Development and Management, Centre of Data and Information System, at the Ministry of Trade to under the role of ICT within the Ministry.

The Centre of Data and Information System plans, drafts, co-ordinates and supervises IT policies, implementation of IT infrastructure and any information systems that are required to be built inside the Ministry of Trade.

Operational responsibilities range from keeping the website up and to assisting and advising other units on infrastructure, servers they need to get, so that they connect directly with the central data recovery centre and metadata that they need to adjust for integration into the data warehouse.

The Centre also runs a  DRC (Disaster Recovery System), so that essential systems stay up and running in the event of accidents or disasters.

The Ministry provides services like domestic and export-import trade licensing, for which it is connected to all regions, provinces and cities in Indonesia. There are challenges in coordinating between regions because of not only of the geographical spread but also due to variations in levels of IT infrastructure and internet availability.

Real-time price monitoring and reporting

The Ministry has developed a Market and Primary Goods Monitoring System, which displays the daily price of important national goods. The prices are monitored by market analysts, and almost real-time reports are provided to the Minister.

The information system called, called SP2KP, can be viewed at ews.kemendag.go.id. Market data on staple goods, such as rice, wheat, sugar, cooking oil, red onion, meat, chicken and more is collected on a daily basis throughout provinces in Indonesia. There is a Situation Room at the Ministry, where the price data is displayed.

Several selected markets are monitored in each province. There are certain challenges also. Firstly, the Ministry wants to improve data validation. Secondly, there are many informal markets, which are not included in definitions. Data from them is difficult to capture.

Crowdsourcing data through mobile apps

To overcome these problems and expand coverage, the Ministry has resorted to crowdsourcing through the ‘Pantau Harga’ (Monitoring price) start-up Mobile apps. People are encouraged to report prices of staple items in traditional market in their neighbourhoods and any substantial changes in them. They also report which markets need to be added, along with their GPS co-ordinates and other details.

The Ministry gets to know in which markets the prices are too high, which markets are low on stock and can plan and manage distribution much more effectively.

Transparency and cutting out the middlemen

Why is the Ministry of Trade focusing so strongly on collection, as well as reporting of data? Because it is about transparency, making prices visible, eliminating middlemen and turning the price mechanisms more efficient. Ultimately, it will improve the welfare of Indonesian farmers.

One of the programs mentioned by Mr. Eka Putuasduki is about sale of red onions directly from farmers to end consumers in 5 kilogram batches comes from start-ups Lima Kilo Mobile apps, which not only creates a marketplace to connect red onions farmers with customers, but also educates them.

Dashboards present business intelligence to ministers through various information system and data, so that they can draft ministerial policies, laws and regulations in an informed manner. It can help them understand the impact of regulations and modify them if required in the case of adverse outcomes.

The President himself sees the dashboard every day to monitor daily prices and uses it to formulate policies and coordinate with ministers. The ministry wants to keep improving the quality of data. The ICT division also understands the importance of keeping systems online and services uninterrupted.

Collaboration and data-sharing

There are difficulties in exchanging data because of differences in systems within the ministry itself and also with other government agencies. The Presidential office sidesteps the problem by collecting data from other ministries and government agencies at the national level and from provinces. They store the data on go.id database website as national open data. This data can be accessed by other ministries or the public.

The Ministry also collaborates with Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), Indonesia’s National Statistics Agency. It is the go-to place for any statistical data reference. BPS is working with other ministries and government agencies and is developing many open data sets.

Cybersecurity

The Ministry is working towards strengthening cybersecurity. Consistent IT policies are being formulated and implemented as being crucial for IT security. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are also being formed. Steps are being taken for achieving ISO 27001 certification.

The Future

There are plans to embrace big data analytics and they are on a learning curve currently. Cloud computing solutions are being considered to overcome space and resource limitations.

In the long term, the Ministry pictures itself as the centralised primary and official channel for information and any trade services for individuals and corporates. Data integration between central government and provincial and municipal governments is essential to achieve that.  

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