Empowering citizens to improve cities

The phrase ‘smart city’ is frequently used, but limiting the conversation to infrastructure and analytics can leave the important aspect of citizen engagement overlooked. Sidoarjo in Greater Surabaya, Indonesia, is determined to take a people-first approach as more and more people move to the regency amid urbanization.

For many progressive mayors, innovation now often translates to increasing the quality of services for the people by taking advantage of information technology. The most important role of technology is still to make information more accessible, and services more affordable.

This vision of connecting people through technology is shared by Team Thor, winner of the Microsoft CityApp Appathon held in Sidoarjo in October 2015. Jointly organized by Microsoft and CITYNET (The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements), hosted by the Sidoarjo Regency and supported by Universitas Muhammadiyah Sidoarjo, the 2-day appathon aimed to harness the imagination and innovation of youth and students in the regency to develop technically sustainable solutions for urban development challenges.

Team Thor stood out with its project M-Bonk, which helps citizens report poor road conditions to authorities for prompt action. The team was inspired after seeing a pothole which caused an accident. That incident got them thinking about how citizens can report such hazards to the authorities, and M-Bonk was developed to let citizens tag and send reports of poor road conditions using their smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS). On the backend, Microsoft Azure is used as a central cloud-based hub, where the application itself is hosted, and where all the information submitted by citizens is captured and stored.

Watch the video to find out how Sidoarjo has successfully adopted public private partnerships to transform the city with technology, and tapped into its most precious resource – its citizens.

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