Sep 06 2013

Solving the Problems of Jakarta with Technology

Cisco had one hour to pitch the Vice Governor of Jakarta how they could help solving the problems of Jakarta with technology. What did they do?

Hint: If you want to skip the boring sales pitch and chit-chat, please skip the first  eleven minutes of the video clip.

The first concern expressed by Pak Basuki, the Vice Governor of Jakarta was traffic management. An idea of having an intelligent traffic light was expressed by him. In addition, the capability of monitoring public transportation, such as Busway, also came up in the discussion.

The next concern was how to make people feel safe in the streets of Jakarta with minimum spending on human resources, i.e. security officers. An idea expressed by the Vice Governor was related to the use of a surveillance system with the ability to react swiftly if there is a security concern captured by the system.

Another classic problem was the chronic flood problem. Pak Basuki was thinking that by having a smart water gate, we can better manage the flood by distributing water intelligently. Interestingly enough, he did not want an automatic system, because he still wants to provide employment for the existing human resources. However, later in the discussion, he mentioned about the vision of having a “leap frog” technology, not yesterday technology. In conclusion, what he wanted is a new semi-automatic system using “leap frog” technology that still makes use of human resources.

It is also hillarious to watch the Cisco Senior VP’s pitching on their traffic and security project in Bangalore, while presenting the slide from U-City project of Hwaseong city in South Korea. Later, the Cisco team could not agree what infrastructure was used in the project, whether it was fiber optic or Wi-Fi, and later the Senior VP wisely mentioned both fiber optic and Wi-Fi. The Vice Governor then commented that 3G and 4G are no longer being used in Bahasa Indonesia, and the Senior VP pretended to understand the comment and replied with false but convincing “exactly”. The fact is that the U-City accommodates the use of telecommunication infrastructure such as 3G and 4G. If you read last year’s slide presentation on Smart City, Smart Strategy, you can see that the early concept of U-City has evolved to Smart City, accommodating 4G mobile network infrastructure.

Later the Vice Governor explained about the system integration problem faced by the city of Jakarta starting from Healthcare system to transportation system, including the bidding problem with different vendors and his wish to have everything centralised in a control room. He later envisioned a system like Paris or Korea, even though it was later revealed that the city as big as Jakarta does not have a CIO!


My cepek rupiahs

1. Investing in a centralised control system for traffic, security and flood is like investing in yesterday technology. I am not interested to enter the debate  on centralised vs. distributed control system, but in my opinion it is best to have a distributed control system, in which different sub-control systems can talk to each other securely. I am not inventing this idea. Just look at how the Internet works.




2. There is a bigger risk in investing in a centralised control system rather than a distributed one. Imagine a security breach on the system that can put Jakarta and its inhabitants into chaos by manipulating traffic, security cameras and water gate. By having a distributed control system, a problem in a sub-control system, like security breach, will not halt the whole system and throw Jakarta into chaos. Then again, I did not invent this idea. Just look at how P2P network works.

Chaotic Traffic of Jakarta.

Chaotic Traffic of Jakarta.


3. The idea of having a central control room to manage traffic, security and flood is a human resources management nightmare. Imagine the need to train a new type of employee or a team of employees that needs to respond to security issues, environmental problem such as flood, traffic problems, electricity issues and even water supply and sewage in a control room. I think this is not impossible, but not very much a cost-effective solution compared to delegating responsibilities and decisions to relevant departments with their own control rooms capable of communicating with each other.

Even by looking at the slide presentation in the clip, you can see that the operation status is distributed to different departments. Ironically though, it is written in the the slide title that “All controlled and managed from a central location”. In all fairness, it may mean that all the IT infrastructure is controlled and managed from a central location. Not an ideal situation, but then there is also a footnote in the slide saying: “The City of Hwasung is using and maintaining the service and facilities with the lead of Hwasung IT Dept.”, or in other words: “The IT Dept. is only responsible to make sure that all the IT infrastructure works as it is supposed to be, but still delegating the control and data management to each department. Having a centralised IT infrastructure is something, but having a centralised control system is another.

The Control Room.

The Control Room.


4. Can you imagine a “leap-frog” technology which is a new semi-automatic system that still makes use of human resources? I can’t think of one. The only better solution that I can think of is a fully automatic system requiring minimal or no human supervision at all. Then, how about the rest of the human resources who used to do the walkie-talkie for water gates etc. as concerned by Pak Basuki? I think you can always retrain and prepare them for another job role.

Who's the frog?

Who’s the frog?


Photo credit

Apr 10 2013

100 for Beer, 100 for My Government

A couple of months back, I found this Video Camera Sunglasses from an online retailer in Australia and got an interesting idea. It is certainly a lot cheaper than the $1500 Google Glass or the Baidu Eye.

Why don’t we use the sunglassess for teaching and learning in schools?
Students and teachers can use the sunglasses for many purposes. They can record their group work discussion during their field trip, they can edit the recording for their digital media assignments and many other educational goals and activities.

A few weeks before I went to a teacher professional development conference and workshop, we bought a couple of the sunglasses for an educational demonstration in the event. Unfortunately, our plan did not succeed because my father-in-law was very much interested to buy them. There goes a good plan 🙂

When I recently found the following documentation clip from Youtube (ed. the original has been removed), I suddenly realised that Indonesians can also use the gadget to reveal the shameful actions of many corrupt officers and harness the power of social media to create an atmosphere of “We’re watching you, please do your job honestly or you will get caught.”, thus preventing rampant corruption activities, affecting many people in the streets of Indonesia.

Whether the application is a good idea or ethical is still open for a public debate.