Bandung’s Smart City Initiatives

Bandung Image by Shutterstock

Bandung is emerging as Indonesia’s leading smart city. Spurred by Indonesia’s economic growth in the past decade, Bandung has developed into a thriving hub for manufacturing and creative industries. The city’s economy is growing at an annual rate of 9%, and its population is estimated to reach 4.1 million by 2030. With this rapid urbanisation, the city is starting to face a number of challenges such as traffic congestion, rising crime rates, waste management, air pollution and housing shortages.

To address these challenges, the government has announced that it will quadruple the budget for its smart city programme next year, from IDR25 billion (US$1.8 million) to IDR 100billion (US$7.3 million), which will be used to build up the city's digital infrastructure. Over the past year, the government has installed about 5,000 free wi-fi hotspots across the city, and they have set a target to install up to 40,000 hotspots to provide more citizens with access to free connectivity. “Bandung has 10,000 neighbourhoods and we intend to provide each with four wi-fi hotspots,” said Ridwan Kamil, Mayor of Bandung.

Bandung Command Center

“We start with smart governance, to have a more efficient government and bureaucracy. We have developed this Command Centre, where you can really see what is happening in the state of Bandung,” said Kamil.

Launched in 2015 and built at a cost of IDR 27 billion (US$2 million), the Bandung Command Center is a state-of-the-art facility to monitor and manage city operations, consisting of 26 monitors, a control room, an operator room, and a meeting room. The Command Centre provides visibility on various aspects of the city, collecting and analysing data from CCTV networks installed across the streets of Bandung. Through video analytics, security personnel are automatically notified if irregular activities are captured on the city’s CCTV systems. A GPS tracking system is used to assist municipal agencies to monitor traffic, or track assets such as public buses, ambulances or fire trucks.   

To improve public safety, a security app known as Panic Button has been launched and made available to citizens, developed by local tech startup X-igent. In the event of an emergency, users can tap on the panic button and receive immediate assistance from the Bandung Command Centre. The app will also be able to contact a whitelist of emergency contacts created by the user.

E-Government Initiatives

The Bandung administration is currently working to launch various e-government initiatives to provide public services more effectively. There are plans to build 1000 government applications by 2017 to ease the strain on bureaucracy and provide digital government services to citizens. The city now has 320 apps, and the remaining 680 apps will be built by a new team of programmers hired by the government.

In his tenure as Mayor of Bandung, Kamil has established the use of social media to communicate with citizens and manage the city. Bandung has 2 million Facebook users and is the sixth most active city in the world in terms of Twitter posts, and the government has implemented an app to monitor the city’s social media activity. The app gathers data from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, enabling city administrators to gain insights into the problems faced by citizens.

“What we are doing here is monitoring tweets coming from citizens of Bandung. For example, if people are tweeting about traffic jams in particular areas,” Kamil explained. ““The revolution of social media is really helpful. Social media allows me to scan the mood of the people, to locate where criticisms or complaints are coming from. With this technology, I can make quick decisions,”

Through an online reporting system, citizens can report municipal issues through Twitter or SMS. The report is assigned to the relevant department, and the time taken to resolve the issue is used as a performance metric.

“We have an interactive citizen reporting. If there’s a problem—a broken road, for example—people would send us a picture, which we would then send to the assigned department. We then monitor the progress until the problem is solved. It’s very effective. We were able to solve 88 percent of the 4,000 complaints in the last couple of months,” he added.

Other programs include Bandung’s online procurement system to help mitigate corruption, and a project management application to monitor and track the progress of civic projects.

Bandung Technopolis

To attract foreign investment and develop Bandung into a centre of entrepreneurship, the government has started the construction of Bandung Technopolis, a satellite city which will serve as the centre of Indonesia’s tech industry. Sprawling across an 800 hectare area in Gedebage, South Bandung, and with planned investments of US$800 million, Kamil envisions Technopolis to be the Silicon Valley of Indonesia in the future. A high speed rail connecting Jakarta and Bandung is also in the works, reducing the travel time of commuters to 30 minutes.

As a centre for education, Bandung is home to over 50 higher education institutes, including Indonesia’s largest tech university, the Bandung Institute of Technology (BIT). 60% of the population is under 40 years old, providing a ready pool of talent for the technology and creative industries in Bandung.

“It is this combination of youth and education that underpins Bandung’s potential as an educational, technological and creative hub. To take advantage of these attributes we will be launching Bandung Technopolis. We envision it as the Indonesian equivalent of San Francisco’s Silicon Valley or Hong Kong’s Cyberport. Once Technopolis receives special economic zone status, all permits will be handled independently within the complex, removing the need for companies to acquire a permit from the city proper,” said Kamil.

“We have aerospace, military, telecommunications and railway industries, so imagine combining these industries with an abundant pool of talent and world class engineers. That’s what makes Bandung ready to become a smart city. We invite all companies around the world to use Bandung as a gateway to Indonesian ICT technology, to use Bandung as a hub for global operations,” he added.