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Indonesia banking on ICT to enhance social capital index

The role of information and communications technology (ICT) has been redefined at the onset of the global COVID-19 crisis. Pre-pandemic, ICT was already considered a critical backbone of emerging markets but this was made more apparent today as organisations struggle to get back on their feet and recover from the massive impact of the pandemic. 

As countries move toward digital transformation in the new normal, technologies like AI and cloud computing leverage ICT networks to track the movement of services, streamline operations and improve existing work patterns. In healthcare, this technology has been harnessed to monitor patient outcomes and make intelligent decisions based on data gathered. In business, ICTs are also crucial in pointing out areas of improvement within the workplace. 

For government agencies, ICT is a tool for enhancing public service. Through this technology, organisations can improve governance and public participation. When there is an integrated system of communication technologies like wireless networks and broadband services, as well as social networking programmes, community participation is fostered. Likewise, positive perceptions of government accountability and transparency are upheld. 

For several agencies in Indonesia, the implementation of a fortified ICT system during the pandemic requires strong collaboration. One of these organisations is the Ministry of National Development Planning which in a statement said that working together with help from technology is the solution towards boosting the nation’s social capital index. 

Suharso Monoarfa, Head and Minister of the National Development Planning, stressed that society and government must work together to contribute to the nationwide recovery. Hence, there is a necessity to improve through ICT the nation’s social capital index, the sum of the perceived social stability and well-being of the whole population.  

He stated during the recently held Blueprint for New Heroes Webinar: “we realise that the handling and recovery of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is actually a collective work of all of us. Therefore, the government and society at large should join hands. Social capital in society is the key to controlling this Covid-19.” 

To explain further, he cited as an example the advantage of a robust social capital in Taiwan. The Minister said that there were no large-scale lockdown nor social restriction policies there, but the Taiwanese government was able to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus in a short period.  

The importance of balancing social capital is seen from research that showed countries with higher social capital index recorded a decreased mortality rate by 17% to 32%. 

As the government remains committed to developing its digital initiatives, the role of ICT in boosting social capital is made more crucial. This is the case in healthcare where community cooperation needs to be ramped up by improved ICT processes to implement health protocols and facilitate monitoring of COVID-10 cases. The Ministry emphasised: “in a situation of high uncertainty, in the current period of recovering from the impact of Covid-19, building trust, awareness and mutual cooperation in the community is important.” 

Investing in ICT is also important in bridging gaps in information-sharing to a population consisting mostly of millennials. The Minister said that government agencies must realise that they are not tapping into technology for citizens but a population of netizens.  

The Minister took the opportunity to discuss that Indonesia’s Vision 2045, part and parcel of the nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, is to be prioritised under the National Medium-Term Development Plan. This initiative, he said, can be achieved by banking on different areas like human resource development, economic development and e-governance.  

He also cited that efforts must be strengthened in boosting technology. This is in line with earlier statements of government officials that digitalisation and tech remain a top priority this year. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights announced that it is set to embark on a digital revolution this year by building on various innovations it has adopted in 2020. 

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