Tackling corruption through social media
Ridwan Kamil, the Mayor of Bandung in Indonesia, has revealed how in two years he transformed the city’s bureaucracy and saved US$20 million. Kamil, speaking at a panel session at the
Asian Development Bank
Annual Meeting in Frankfurt, became mayor of Indonesia’s third largest city in 2014. He said the biggest issue facing him after his election was a slow and corrupt bureaucracy with his predecessor having been sent to jail. Following research, where he discovered a digital friendly city of 2.1 million Facebook users, his solution was to digitise the city government. “I transferred all manual procedures online and am developing what I call an e-democracy asking people to oversee the government,” said Kamil. “It is the first city in Indonesia to have all departments with a Twitter account. Every day there are two hundred postings from all our departments using what I call visual culture through text as well as photos.” Citizens can now complain online if they are not happy with certain public services and can go to websites and add a score. “We fight corruption also using this smart city approach using a very efficient process and by correcting data,” added Kamil. “There is no room for error or ways to manipulate the system.” When Kamil first came to power, the city’s bureaucracy performance was ranked 200th. It is now ranked number one in Indonesia. “I counted last year alone that I saved around US$20 million by moving away from a manual process into digital,” said Kamil. “I don’t believe people can change directly by their personality but if you lock the system using smart city technology leaving no room for error or manipulation, I think cities like ours in developing countries can perform better.” Kamil said his second biggest challenge was the dearth of finance available for infrastructure. According to the mayor, most of the 500 cities in Indonesia must fund infrastructure 100 percent from their own budgets which leads to slow progress as budgets are allocated first to buy land, then to build, then to fit out the infrastructure. He is spending US$500 million a year on infrastructure, which would equate to US$2.5 billion over his five-year term in office yet over US$7 billion is needed to create a modern Bandung. And looking at cities in general in Indonesia, Kamil estimates the amount would be US$3-4 trillion. “The development banks or investors who come to Indonesia come to big-sized, national projects,” said Kamil. “They don’t look at small city-scale projects and I am saying that while they look small as one project, if you multiply them by the hundreds of cities, then there is a huge opportunity.”
By Richard Forster
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Photo: ADB