This is the third installment in our Innovating for Open Cities blog series, featuring our interview with Perkumpulan SKALA. You can also read our project wrap-up and our interview with Radya Labs on their DARU project.
Our Innovating for Open Cities project, supported by Making All Voices Count, had us setting an ambitious goal: to deliver the most innovative solutions to improve cities across Indonesia, inspired and designed by citizens for the benefit of citizens. We are trying to change the trend from “smart cities” to “open cities”, steering technology and data-driven cities to people-centered ones.
To realise this goal, we worked with various partners. One of them is Perkumpulan SKALA, who works on creative initiatives to make Jakarta more sustainable, livable and resilient, particularly in the face of natural disasters. Nurdiyansah Dalidjo (Diyan) joined us to talk about SKALA’s experience.
Diyan worked very closely with the Jakarta Lab to implement the “JKT Safe City” programme. The programme focuses on increasing citizens’ awareness – specifically youth communities – of the potential danger should a disaster hit Jakarta. Through this initiative, the youth organisation Indonesian Youth on Disaster Risk Reduction (IYDRR) and a disaster data platform for JKT Safe City were born.
Q: Hi Diyan, congratulations on successfully starting the “JKT Safe City” programme. Could you tell us a little a bit more about this initiative?
A: Thanks for having me, I feel honored to have collaborated with the Jakarta Lab. The “JKT Safe City” programme is initiated by Perkumpulan SKALA, and aims to prepare Jakarta’s citizens to be more disaster resilient. We produced informative, educational, and disaster-related campaign materials. We also built an online platform called Jkt Safe City, where citizens can access reports on disasters, and a database of disaster-related information. One of the most important highlights we had was forming a youth community—where Jakarta’s youth can participate in and advocate for more awareness of disaster-related issues.
Q: Why do you think such a programme is important? Why did you target young people as your main messengers?
A: As we know, Jakarta is a disaster-prone area. We often suffer from flooding; we are prone to fire accidents – especially in densely populated areas – and earthquakes might hit anytime. So having a ‘disaster resilient society’ is crucial for our citizens and city to avoid unnecessary casualties or hazardous impacts.
I think the youth are highly important actors in this case. Their active involvement can’t be underestimated—you’ll be surprised by their enthusiasm in advocating the issue. I witnessed it myself! The youth community we built, IYDRR, has done serious work such as building relationships with disaster-related agencies, producing disaster-awareness infographics and videos, and holding discussions among their peers. Their activities really impressed me.
Q: Could you name the challenges you faced along the way?
A: Oh! There were many. I mentioned our online platform earlier, the platform where you can download disaster-related data. The process of requesting and gathering data was incredibly hard. In the beginning, we planned to access data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), but it was a difficult since both agencies are still in the process of building their infrastructure and knowledge of open data. In the end, we obtained the data from a different agency that was more familiar with open data, which is the Jakarta Regional National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).
The difficult challenge of obtaining open data delayed our progress and made us think twice – and harder – on how to proceed with this programme. But in the end, with enormous help from various parties, we managed to come this far. We would like to thank the Jakarta Lab as well, for keeping us on track by giving guidance and increasing our capacity building.
Q: How did you manage to convince different stakeholders to work with you?
A: We have an incredible partnership with the youth community, and we take our work very seriously. It’s understandable that several agencies are reluctant to share data – perhaps they don’t have a well-managed database or they are afraid of the misuse potential of the data. Understanding these hindering factors, we used a personal approach in convincing them that the data we requested would be used for the greater good.
We showed them what we did with the data we already had – we produced educational infographics and videos on disaster preparedness. In the end, you know what happened? Right now, the BMKG is drafting an MoU with us for future collaboration on disaster data publication and their staffs’ capacity building, while BPBD and BNPB are giving signals for possible future collaborations.
Q: So, are you confident to say that your initiative received positive reception from stakeholders?
A: Certainly, it’s impossible to arrive to this point without the cooperation of our stakeholders. Right now, we’ve already built good relations with national and regional agencies related to disaster management and we are committed to exploring collaborations on the issue.
Q: What other successes do you have from this program?
A: Having drafted an MoU with the national agency is still on the top of our list of successes. The other success would be getting recognition and positive response from government agencies for our work. When we launched the youth community, IYDRR, the government representatives from BNPB and BPBD Jakarta who attended the event showed their support for the initiative by joining the discussion on stage. That was a proud moment for us when we saw the network formed with various stakeholders.
Q: Did this programme yield the result you anticipated?
A: Partly yes. I’ve already mentioned some of our successes earlier. But what we didn’t anticipate was that targeting youth as our main messengers meant massive use of social media and online platforms for our campaign. This became a problem for us because most of our target audience were people with limited access to gadgets—they weren’t the young and well-educated. Thankfully, this problem is not an issue anymore because the youth community has planned to also do an offline campaign in the form of a roadshow in the riverside neighborhood.
Q: What’s your future plan regarding this programme?
A: We’ll continue the programme. We have several collaborations planned ahead of us. Finalising the MoU with the BMKG is one of them. Immediate in our agenda are intensifying IYDRR’s participation in the National Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (Platform Nasional PRB), and doing an awareness-raising campaign and roadshow on disaster preparedness in dense residential areas along riversides.
Thank you to Diyan and Perkumpulan SKALA for helping to make Jakarta work for its citizens! Watch out for the final part of our Innovating for Open Cities blog series, where we interview Asrul Sidiq of ICAIOS.