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.
Halfway through the first month of the year, a number of government organisations are making the shift to digital transformation a priority even as global economies continue to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Asia, economies are injecting fresh stimuli to various sectors. One of them is Indonesia which has been making strides in improving operations through innovation.
According to a statement, the Ministry of Industry is re-strategising and putting technology at the core of its operational framework this year. Integrated within this strategic programme is the 3-in-1 Education and Training event which reflects the government’s goal of propping up the industrial workforce to meet the growing demand for products and services. This is alongside efforts to stem the unemployment rate and increase the competence of human resources.
Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita explained during the virtual kick-off for the education and training event that they are looking at improving three pillars of economic growth –investment, human resources and technology. The Minister believes that of the three, human resource development and digital technology must be taken advantage of to sustain the growth momentum of the industrial sector under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap.
This initiative is in line with the government’s plans to improve the manufacturing and industrial sectors under the Making Indonesia blueprint. To achieve this goal, Indonesia has been actively scoring investments across various industries. As cited earlier by OpenGov Asia, it is looking at encouraging global tech giants to invest in its digital economy and its electric vehicle industry as these firms start to look for new investment locations.
Investing in human resource development
To comply with this roadmap, the workforce must learn how to adapt quickly and be able to implement the technology. The Minister noted: “[It] is necessary to provide basic skills, increase skills (up-skilling) or update skills (re-skilling) for workers based on the needs of the industrial world today.”
This is where the 3-in-1 training curriculum comes in as an initial step towards harnessing certain skills from the workforce that can help cater to industry needs. The Minister added: “The implementation of training starting from curriculum preparation. [L]earning practices to job placements have been carried out in collaboration with industrial companies and industry associations.”
The training focuses not only on disseminating information about technology and human resource management. The Minister emphasised that it can be used to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is done by reducing the number of employee layoffs in the industrial sector by improving their skills and making them more competent.
He mentioned: “With the availability of competent industrial workers, it is hoped that industrial utilisation can increase again. In December 2020, industrial utilisation began to crawl at the level of 61.1%, which previously decreased by around 50% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Ministry anticipates that conducting the training will provide startup enterprises within the industrial sector added knowledge and expertise in the field which they can use to improve their operations.
The kick-off was well attended and had over 6,000 participants across 14 provinces and 52 districts. It likewise involved 101 industrial companies and 20 district offices. Training for machine operation, food safety and production equipment for processed food were held. Training regarding innovative quality control processes and animation procedures were also conducted.
Pursuant to Circular No 7 of 2020 earlier released by the Ministry, an Operating Licence Mobility Industrial Activity was launched to streamline manufacturing operations for public health emergencies. As of writing, the Ministry has introduced more than 18,000 mobility activities expected to improve the competency of 5.13 million workers.
Several organisations, both in the public and private sectors, are continuing to improvise and adapt to a new normal as a result of the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. In government, it’s not agencies that are stepping up their game by introducing and adopting innovative concepts to streamline services. In fact, many state-owned firms are diving into the realm of digital transformation to drive results and along this vein, contribute to a collective effort in boosting e-governance frameworks.
One of them is state-owned enterprise PT Surveyor Indonesia (Persero). In a statement, the company announced that it has launched the Surveyor Indonesia Net Culture or SyNC as part of its commitment to usher in digitalisation in processing and analysing primary and secondary data that would be the basis of government policies. The announcement was made during the virtual launch of the software. It was attended by top officials of the state-owned firm and other government officials.
During the event, Alex Denni, Deputy for Human Resources, Technology and Information of the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises explained that SyNC is anticipated to scale up business processes, talent acquisition and development and service innovations.
He took the opportunity to discuss the importance of having key players in the field of Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) be at the fore of introducing and leveraging digital innovations. The Deputy said: “Digital transformation in TIC needs to be accelerated so that we remain relevant to the development of the era because later, many traditional roles in TIC can be replaced by technology, such as field surveyors, which can be done remotely.”
The Deputy for Human Resources added that from the perspective of the Ministry, technology should always be prioritised and given ample room for support. This is particularly important to implement synchronisation and in imbibing a spirit of developing a digital culture for firms like Surveyor Indonesia.
For the Ministry, digital transformation is a necessity and not just an added value for services that can be simply discarded. It is a tool that can be utilised by key players in the industry in shedding off traditional mindsets and embracing an array of digital elements.
This call was echoed by Iman Pambagyo, Chief Commissioner of Surveyor Indonesia. He noted that now more than ever, companies need to strive to be at the centre of innovation and not just be a mere observer at the sidelines. This, the Chief Commissioner said, is at the heart of efforts to launch the SyNC programme amid several challenges in the arena of digitalisation.
Other officials of the state-owned enterprise also expressed optimism that shifting to the digital paradigm would not become a mere buzzword in the future. They emphasised that the goal is not to allow digital transformation to lapse into mere jargon but for it to be an essential unit, a backbone of improved company culture.
Efforts in putting up SyNC were well lauded by officials present during the event. They added that there is immense potential for the programme to be the “starting point for developing young talents”. This comes as the TIC industry continues to grow and be developed so there is a need to fast-track the implementation of digital initiatives as part of an improved work culture that will not only adopt existing innovation but will likely put firms at the fore of developing key digital tools.
Other government agencies share the same sentiments. As reported earlier by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights said that they remain steadfast in their effort to accelerate innovation by sparking what is referred to as a ‘digital revolution’. It will do this by building on some of the digital platforms it introduced last year.
The role of social media platforms in advancing the cause of government organisations has been amplified with the onset of security and safety protocols rolled out to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Agencies in Indonesia have long realised the advantage of tapping into social media to disseminate information to the public. Banking on this advantage, the Marine and Fisheries Research and Human Resources Agency (BRSDM), a department under the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, recently held a virtual forum on public relations (PR) aimed at optimising the use of social media in the realm of information dissemination. There, the Ministry underscored the importance of having a change in mindset. There must be a need to look beyond conventional media and learn to adapt to other forms of digital media to improve operations.
During the event, Kusdiantoro, the Secretary of the Agency, said that by utilising social media, organisations across the country can unlock many opportunities to inform the general public of the undertakings and milestones achieved by the Ministry.
To emphasise, he cited earlier reports that showed Indonesia is among the top 10 countries which spend the most time on the internet. According to the Digital 2020 Global Digital Review published by Hootsuite and social marketing agency We Are Social, internet users in Indonesia in the age range of 16 – 64 years old spent an average of 7 hours and 59 minutes surfing the internet every day during 2019. This is longer than the average time recorded globally at 6 hours and 43 minutes.
The Secretary added: “The high use of social media in Indonesia is a great opportunity that can be used by government public relations to broadcast and socialise the work achievements of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, especially from BRSDM.”
To fully reap the benefits of utilising social media platforms, the Secretary noted that human resources and officials in PR must have an in-depth understanding of how the internet and social media work. It is likewise key to have a broad understanding of how to effectively manage these channels. These actions will allow the organisation to understand key concepts and data related to government policies and reforms that they can share with the public.
This is of significance to the Marine and Fishery Ministry which currently has 9,202 employees across its various departments. These do not include fisheries instructors, students and other key figures. The Secretary added that without proper publication, marine and fishery activities will not be optimised.
The expanded role of public relations
Other officials present during the online event shared the same sentiments. Tb Ardi Januar, the Special Staff of the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries for Public Communication Media Relations, stressed that the role of PR is crucial in following the mandate laid down by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the Ministry to enhance communication ties between stakeholders and fishermen.
He explained that to attain this objective, the Ministry must keep its communication lines open to key players in the industry. It is also equally crucial to be able to effectively convey the policies of the Ministry to the public to strengthen public transparency and accountability. He added: “Public relations must also be able to compare institutions so that the public is well informed and able to counter issues, as well as clarifying controversial issues, bridging things that are unclear and straightening confusing information –that is the role of public relations.”
With the proliferation of new social media channels and citizen journalism, streamlining public relations is made easier. The trick is to use these platforms innovatively and creatively. In boosting social media presence, key points to be prioritised include helping disseminate the government’s flagship programmes in infrastructure and the economy.
Initiating reforms in public relations is only one of the undertakings set forth by government agencies in Indonesia. In an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Communication and Information noted that it is developing several e-commerce platforms to assist Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Significant strides in digital technology have been taken in governance and improvement of basic public services. Digital solutions platforms and tools, in light of the plethora of crises in 2020, have been a huge boon to disaster preparedness initiatives and critical event management.
As one of the countries across the world which records the most number of earthquakes, the Indonesian government is preparing better for the occurrence of this calamity by innovating. According to a statement, the state’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) announced that it is enhancing its data gathering systems to obtain more accurate data and parameters on earthquakes.
To do this, the agency, in collaboration with state-owned firm PT Len Industri, is installing more earthquake monitoring systems across Indonesia under its early warning programme called the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System or the InaTEWS.
The system is an intricate web that combines seismic information, GPS and Buoy Data, as well as Tide Gauge Data. Of this information, seismic data forms an integral part of the InaTEWS system as it can detect potential tsunamis in 4 to 5 minutes after the onslaught of an earthquake.
Improving the InaTEWS programme builds on earlier initiatives implemented in 2019 when the BMKG installed 194 monitoring stations across the country. By the end of 2020, it reinstalled 39 stations of its regional station under the Mini Regional Installation Project. These additions bring the total number of seismograph applications to 411 units.
The BMKG considers the completion of its regional station as last year’s milestone as it was done according to timelines and as the station is now fully operational despite difficulties due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Randy Dwi Rahardian, Head of PT Len Industri’s Mini Regional Installation Project, explained that some of the issues they hurdled during the installation phase include limited transportation and distribution options. some installation sites are geographically isolated and difficult to reach, particularly those in Sulawesi and Maluku and other sites in Central and Eastern Indonesia. Availability of transportation modes for distribution of goods has also been limited due to restrictions on ship departure schedules and the number of ships. The current pandemic situation has had a huge impact on project implementation. But with strong project planning and monitoring, he is confident that the nation can get through it well.
The BMKG stated that as more installation sites are completed, seismic sensors will be able to predict with more accuracy the speed and other details of earthquakes and tsunamis. To make the programme more reliable, there is now a posthole seismometer system in place where a seismometer, the device that can detect and respond to ground motions produced during earthquakes, is inserted underground. This can help reduce what the agency called environmental noise. As a result, there is an improvement in data quality.
Putting up more early-warning sensors and earthquake infrastructure
In the same statement, the state-owned firm said that it is looking at improving its services to be able to add to early warning devices that the country can use. As a maintenance unit of the InaTEWS, it is now improving the programme by ensuring the integrity and availability of earthquake data, with the end goal of keeping data availability above 90%. This can be done by ensuring the proper placement of seismometers and even maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels of the seismometers.
The firm added that while most products and tech knowledge used in earthquake detection come from other countries, it is confident that there will be a transfer of technology initiative that can be implemented by Indonesia in the future.
This statement comes on the heels of earlier efforts made by other state-owned companies to integrate technology into their operations. As previously cited by OpenGov Asia, government-owned enterprises are tapping on innovative systems like the Enterprise Resource Planning programme to build more sustainable ecosystems and streamline their services.
Halfway through the first month of the year, governments around the globe are still in the throes of economic recovery due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While other countries are growing their arsenal with measures aimed at spurring growth across various sectors, government agencies in Indonesia may have found the ‘answer’ to shore up economic progress. The solution, based on goals and initiatives laid out by the government, is to reinvent existing governance frameworks and invest heavily in digital advancements to streamline services.
Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Law and Human Rights, echoed this sentiment. He underscored that this year, the Ministry is set to implement what it called a digital revolution in its public services by building on various innovations it has introduced last year.
Among these projects are the Personnel Management Information System, an integrated database containing necessary information of employees capable of easy retrieval and analysis. It was also able to adopt in 2020 an In-Out Mail System that allows a faster, more seamless flow of communication across the Ministry’s various departments.
To add to this roster of digital initiatives, the Ministry also mentioned that it has put up online systems at the Directorate General of Immigration, as well as virtual systems in different departments. The full implementation of AHU-Online, a virtual system where all legal entities at the Ministry are required to register and submit required documents for application, was likewise a milestone that will continue to be implemented.
The Minister also noted that they are looking at enhancing the various virtual counters it has installed in the Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP). As reported earlier by OpenGov Asia, these virtual counters are the first-ever digital intellectual property counters in the country. With the installation of such counters, the DGIP said there is no more need to line up to transact with the agency, thereby eliminating potential risks of spreading and getting infected by the COVID-19 virus.
Renewed calls to invest in tech
This year, the Minister encouraged all units across the Ministry to capitalise on digital reforms and increase the use of information technology. He also stressed the importance of “mapping needs, making careful planning and integrating closely with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights Data and Information Technology Centre.”
To effectively map out the digital revolution it has proposed, the Ministry is looking at integrating all important data into one single database. This database would then be further interweaved with other information on a national scale. This effort is anticipated to set forth quality data that is easily accessible and available and which can be shared seamlessly among agencies and with the community. The result would be improved government transparency and accountability.
Human resource development shall be on top of the Ministry’s priority moving forward in a bid to scale and reach performance targets. To explain further, the Law and Human Rights Minister said: “Without the support of strong human resources, all targets and work programs will not be accomplished.”
The introduction of a digital revolution within the Ministry is similar to the plans laid out at the start of the year by other government agencies. These include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which, as reported by OpenGov Asia, intends to adopt an improved e-governance blueprint that in the long term will be able to contribute to the country’s growth and stability. One of the department’s focus is to promote inclusivity for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises through the adoption of digital techniques. It also aims to foster improvements by initiating collective effort at global leadership affairs. This, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, will be possible by striving to be more agile and adaptive to change.
Strengthening the digital economy is high on the list of the Indonesian government, as it remains steadfast in its commitment to boost economic activity through an improved e-governance framework.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoes this initiative in 2021. In her annual press statement, Minister Retno Marsudi joined the call of other government agencies in adopting technology to expedite operations. She said that this year, the department will focus on strengthening cooperation in the digital economy. It will also leverage digitalisation to promote inclusivity for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
To achieve this, the Minister added that they are set to participate in the second World Conference on Creative Economy to be held in Bali in May, a creative economy business forum for ASEAN and a forum on venture capital networks where they would be in collaboration with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.
She explained that to foster change, a stronger collective effort at global leadership is needed. In the field of diplomacy and foreign affairs, the Ministry said that to help spur economic growth, it plans to be more anticipative, adaptive and agile this year.
She emphasised: “It is estimated that issues of democracy, human rights and the environment will increasingly become the world’s attention. Digitalisation will have a lot of influence on future economic activity. At the same time, digitalisation also presents an increasing challenge of cybercrime and opportunities for information infrastructure breakdown.”
Last year, the Ministry exerted efforts to build upon old strategies by mixing in new digital programmes. In her speech, she stated that they held several dialogues with private companies engaged in digital services in a bid to attract more investments. They have likewise talked with companies in various industries including pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and manufacturing.
The foreign affairs department also continued to implement communication strategies with the public and other agencies, on top of strengthening digital initiatives amid the pandemic. This, the Ministry said, was accomplished by extending Indonesia’s satellite filing in the 113BT Orbit Slot.
These initiatives laid out by the foreign affairs department add to the list of undertakings various agencies in government have introduced. For instance, as reported by OpenGov Asia, social assistance programmes are now being digitised to cater to the demands of the new normal.
Contributions in healthcare, tourism, economic policies
The Ministry likewise contributed to other key areas in the public sector in 2020. One of these is in the tourism sector, where it encouraged the reopening of doors to foreign tourists by supporting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Significant efforts to expand market access and regional economic integration were also pushed by the Ministry by encouraging the implementation of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), an economic pact entered into between the two nations in July 2020. It likewise pushed last year for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) under a memorandum of understanding to implement non-tariff measures.
On top of these, the Minister said it was able to support government measures of promoting investment by holding talks with businesses keen on diversifying their assets and investments in Indonesia. It explained that more investments would help strengthen the Job Creation Law passed also last year.
In the field of healthcare, the foreign affairs department admitted that the past year introduced many challenges to the government. However, it also acknowledged valuable lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the importance of fostering global cooperation, economic resilience and adopting multilateralism.
To mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic, the department fast-tracked several policies aimed at ramping up economic activity without sacrificing compliance with health protocols. It discussed the Travel Corridor Agreement (TCA) with Asian economies including South Korea, China and Singapore. A round of TCA negotiations with Japan is still ongoing.
With regard to vaccine acquisition and distribution, the Ministry added that the government is actively securing fresh batches of vaccines to achieve goals of having the majority of the population vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in the coming months. It does this by partnering with various pharmaceutical companies and by participating in investors’ councils.
As global economies continue to recover from the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, several governments are veering away from traditional operations and shifting their focus toward digital transformation.
The Indonesian government is at the fore of this transformation. Last year, an aggressive rollout of tech-driven programmes were introduced and subsequently adopted by multiple organisations. Among these departments is the Ministry of Industry which announced plans to integrate a modern approach in its governance framework.
From an auspicious finish during the previous year, the Ministry said it is continuing digital reformation not just to fast-track transactions within its workforce but also to provide assistance to startup businesses that are intent on expanding their consumer base and improving their products and services to be able to compete better globally.
In a statement, the Ministry reiterated its call for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises or MSMEs to transform by going digital. This initiative has been set forth early on last year and is inclined towards goals to develop the industrial sector by increasing efficiency in costs, energy and time through digitalisation.
The Ministry added that it is holding more events this year which would set the stage for small businesses to showcase their products. One of these events is Startup4Industry, which was created pursuant to directives laid out under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap.
In 2020, several startup businesses in Indonesia participated in events held by the Ministry. Out of these participants, 20 were chosen to participate in the Expose Day, an exhibit where tech solutions offered by startup businesses in the country can be unveiled to the public.
Gati. Wibawaningsih, Director General of Small, Medium and Miscellaneous Industries (IKMA) of the Ministry of Industry explained: “Expose Day is a show-off event for technology solutions made by Indonesian startups to the public and industry players so that the theme of the 2020 competition, which is ‘Confidence in Domestic Technology’, can be realised.”
The Director General also noted that the Ministry extends assistance to MSMEs which can rank well in four aspects. These include business opportunities, technicalities, the feasibility of business implementation and impact on innovation.
Tech startups have been on the receiving end of assistance from the government. With the onset of the pandemic and growing economic concerns globally, the Indonesian government is looking at companies that are able to introduce profitable technology that can be utilised in streamlining e-governance models. To emphasise this position, the Director General confirmed that one of the winners of the Startup4Industry is an enterprise specialising in the field of automation, information technology and digital control systems.
Business owners in the country are getting more inclined to develop automation systems, as these programmes are seen to provide more efficient production processes. The central function of automation systems is to create control applications. They are particularly useful in running machinery and equipment in production facilities and factories.
An automated system is made up of several customisable elements and functions. These functions are designed to perform specific and programmed tasks. The system is utilised so that operational and administrative tasks will be more efficient. It has since been used not just to operate machines in manufacturing but is now being used in the field of human resource development.
As reported earlier by OpenGov Asia, several state-owned enterprises in Indonesia are trying out automation systems to boost efficiency in their operations. One of these firms is a forestry enterprise that uses a project with a built-in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The firm uses the ERP programme to modernise operations by reframing its existing financial controlling and human capital management business models.