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A bottom-up initiative empowering grassroots communities in Indonesia

Blog | May 24, 2017 | Open Data Labs

Supported by Making All Voices Count, our Innovating for Open Cities project began with the hope to make cities across Indonesia more open and transparent.

This project is also deeply rooted in our strong belief that tech-driven smart cities are not enough—we need to go further to ensure citizens can participate and shape their cities. We refer to this as shifting from “smart” to “open cities”.

To achieve this, we worked with social innovators who dished out creative, data-driven but people-centred ideas on how to transform their cities to be more livable, sustainable, and adaptable for citizens.

One of our partners, the International Centre for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies (ICAIOS), worked hand in hand with the Banda Aceh city government to empower grassroots communities by providing them with the means to broaden their product’s reach through an e-commerce/online advertising platform.

We interviewed Asrul Sidiq from ICAIOS and the Produk Tanyoe project.


Q: Hi Asrul, could you tell us what the Produk Tanyoe project is about, and how this project started?

A: “Produk Tanyoe” means “Our Product”. We built a website that serves as a platform in two ways: for tourists or anyone looking for local products, and for local people and producers to advertise their products. On the platform you can find product photos, short descriptions and location coordinates so people can easily know where to get the products.

We started this initiative because we saw that local products are often unadvertised and receive poor attention from potential buyers. So we are wanted to reignite the spirit of promoting local products, at the same time bridging communication between the government and owners of home-based businesses. After long discussions, research, and brainstorming, we discovered that the Banda Aceh city government already had a programme called the “One Village One Product” (OVOP), which aimed to empower local economies by developing ‘home-based’ industries. They already had an established database of the local products being made in Banda Aceh’s villages, so we approached the government and asked their permission to take that programme to the next level by making the OVOP data more user friendly. We achieved this through our Produk Tanyoe portal.

Q: What improvements had been done by ICAIOS to accessing and understanding the collected government data? How has Produk Tanyoe been helpful in making the data useful?

A: A lot actually. When we first approached the government to ask for access to their database, the data from the OVOP survey report was compiled as a printed book. We know we can’t process datasets and visualise them if the data is not digitised – so we started the digitalisation process. We scraped the data into a CSV format, then we published the data on the website. Now, anyone who wants to make use of the data either for business or social purposes can download it easily and right away. This wasn’t possible before

Aside from that, we also enriched the database by adding more data to it. ICAIOS members went directly to the field—we interviewed home-based business owners, we gathered, compiled, and cleaned the data, and published them in open format. You can also go directly to the website to see how we visualised the data and enabled users to search for local products or for entrepreneurs to advertise their local products. Entrepreneurs can also input their products directly to the website. Our team will then review the input and decide if the product has met our set standard for public display. You can check out our website at https://kotatanyoe.org/ProdukTanyoe.

Q: Did you face any challenges while implementing this project?

A: Yes of course! For instance, there were changes in organisational structure in several of the government agencies in Banda Aceh that we partnered with. Some representatives who normally attended our meetings and whom we’ve formed a good partnership with changed their positions and responsibilities, so we had to meet with new representatives, brief them, and ask for their commitment all over again. This delayed our progress. But thankfully, in the end, all the representatives showed interest and commitment.

Q: What you do consider as achievements from this project?

A: There are several accomplishments that I think we should celebrate. First, we formed a partnership with the Banda Aceh city government. For 2017, the government allocated funds for the OVOP Task Force to add 200 products more to our Produk Tanyoe website and incubate ten small to medium enterprises to develop their products. Second, the website receives around 1000-2000 visitors a day and there is already a growing number of home-based business owners who put their products on our website—this shows that the website is seen as useful. Third, we formed cooperations and partnerships: with various government agencies to develop local products, including SMEs, the Regional Development Planning Agency, the Tourism Agency and a university.

Q: What are your future plans for the Product Tanyoe website?

A: We predict that this year and next will be very busy for us. Since we received positive response from government agencies and social communities, we will keep developing this platform by expanding its reach and inviting more people to be involved. We are also going to include more universities such as UIN Arraniry and Universitas Malikusaleh Lhokseumawe to help us further succeed this initiative. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve had a very good start already. Wish us luck!


About the author

Launched in 2014, the Open Data Jakarta Lab engages partners all over Southeast Asia to unlock the social, political, and economic benefits of open data.

About this blog

This is the fourth and final blog of an Open Data Labs series, originally published here. You can contact the team's Innovation and Engagement Manager, Antya Widita, at antya@webfoundation.org or message him on Twitter @AntyaWidita to learn more about the project and what’s next for it. Follow the Jakarta Lab @ODLabJkt to stay updated on its activities.
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