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Open Cities: Firefighting at your fingertips in Indonesia

Blog | May 22, 2017 | Open Data Labs

The hype around “Smart Cities” has influenced discussions on urbanism worldwide. Locally in Indonesia, the concept of smart cities is becoming more popular and cities across the country are starting to integrate and harness technology for more efficient and smarter public administration.

However, more often than not, smart city approaches fail to provide room for citizen participation in the policy-making process.

Open Data Lab Jakarta believes that the power of technology alone is not sufficient to make cities more sustainable and fitting for everyone – we need technology combined with citizen participation and open data.

Following this belief, in June 2016 we launched an innovative project called “Innovating for Open Cities”, with the support of Making All Voices Count. The initiative aimed to turn cities into “people-centred smart cities”.

We worked with our outstanding partners to change the trend from smart cities to “open cities”. Through a series of interviews, we’ve captured the experience of our partners as they delved in this project, and now we’re ready to share what they’ve said!

Together with us, Radya Labs developed an innovative system named DARU, which aims to help the Jakarta Fire Department improve their public service delivery in firefighting by utilising a system that is based on open data.

Read on for Open Data Lab's interview with Puja Pramudya, Chief Technology Officer at Radya Labs.


Q: Hi Puja, DARU seems like a useful system, could you tell us a little more about it?

A: Yes it’s very useful indeed! DARU is designed by Radya Labs to modernise the Jakarta Fire Department’s rescue operations. It brings all necessary information in real-time, integrates data from other parties and visualises the rescue plan. So, the fire department personnel can have a bird’s eye view of the rescue operations in the field and all necessary information will be at their fingertips in real-time.

Q: What was the necessity that drove the development of this system? What motivated you to develop DARU?

A: Right now, Jakarta’s firefighting operations function in an old fashion way – using paper/radio communication for coordination. The manual conduct hinders them from getting real-time information relating to vehicle movement and availability; delayed communication often occurs and leads to more casualties and higher potential of fire hazards, which is very dangerous especially in a densely populated urban area like Jakarta.

Q: Tell us what has gone well—what are your successes with DARU?

A: DARU is shaping up really well. We developed a system prototype that the Fire Department can already use, which consists of two main components. The first component is Android tablets equipped with a software called “On-Board Unit App” placed inside fire trucks, that will enable sending out real-time information from the field. The second component is a VTS (Vehicle Tracking System) that enables the Fire Department Command Center to visualise all information received from the fire trucks, location of the fire incidents, and information of hydrant and fire post location all over Jakarta extracted from the Jakarta Smart City (JSC) portal.

What I consider as a big success is, because of DARU, there is a collaboration formed between two government agencies, namely the Jakarta Fire Department and the Jakarta Smart City (JSC). At first, we developed this system for the internal use of the Jakarta Fire Department, but then the JSC saw this and now they plan to integrate the information obtained from this platform to help them develop a service app, that will deliver immediate information – such as disaster alerts to Jakarta citizens. Isn’t this something that we should celebrate?!

Q: You collaborated with various stakeholders. How did they respond to your initiative?

A: The responses are massively positive. Since DARU brings a lot of valuable improvements (to Jakarta’s firefighting operations), everything will be easily controlled through the system and it levels up the Fire Department’s capacity to provide better public service. They even prioritised DARU development as part of their programme.

We also showcased our work at the Jakarta Smart City Office—I was really surprised to see how our presentation drew such a crowd. We first met the Jakarta Smart City team back in 2015, when we became one of the finalist of HackJak – a hackathon event organised by Hivos that utilised datasets from Jakarta’s open data portal. I am happy and proud to see that our good relationship with Jakarta Smart City has developed into such an amazing achievement.

Q: Could you summarise your whole experience working in developing DARU and being a part of the Innovating for Open Cities project?

A: I would say it’s a tremendous personal experience for me to be able to contribute my expertise. I’m an IT business guy, and my team develops software mostly for the private sector. I wasn’t accustomed to building software for a social purpose like this.

But joining the Innovating for Open Cities project shaped my social participation senses by helping me learn to see problems through a more social perspective. This revelation opened a whole new world for me. I’m excited to get involved more in the future.

Q: What challenges did you encounter along the way and how did you manage to solve them?

A: The most vivid challenge is implementing the software in the real world, especially since it’s related to disaster and rescue operations. The devil is in the details. The problem was that endless options kept appearing. At first, we planned to develop a citizen-centred channel where the public can request and obtain services from the Fire Department, but after a series of discussions we found that creating a new channel would be unnecessary because there are several available channels for that already, such as the 112 Hotline. Besides that, developing a new channel will require massive socialisation with the public, which was not possible to do in a short time.

Thankfully, I received full support from the Open Data Lab Jakarta in terms of guidance. Especially during the incubation sessions, which helped my team to stay focused and disciplined. Aside from that, we also received constructive advice that helped with the completion of the project.

Q: What’s your future plan for DARU?

A: We will work with the Jakarta Smart City Office and the Fire Department to establish formal working relationships to finish this project. Additionally, we will try to offer this solution to other cities and work with the private sector to expand our user base.


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 second 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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