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Open Data Labs Jakarta: a legacy to celebrate

Web Foundation · February 3, 2021

This post was written by Glenn Maail, Research Manager at the Open Data Labs in Jakarta. 

For six years, the Open Data Labs Jakarta has been at the forefront of research, innovation and capacity building to unlock the benefits of open data in Indonesia and across the region. As part of the Web Foundation’s Open Data Programme, the Jakarta Lab has grown into an ideal testing ground for new methods to design and implement open data initiatives and a leading institute to explore how open data can lead to positive change.  

Our work has secured real change for Indonesia’s citizens — most notably when our years of sustained advocacy resulted in President Joko Widodo ushering in Indonesia’s One Data policy, a crucial step in building an open data culture that can make a difference in people’s lives.

As 2021 begins, the Web Foundation passes the baton to our Indonesian partners to take forward the work the Lab has pioneered. Here’s a look back at the impact of our work to create awareness of the value of open data, support the implementation of open data initiatives, and empower citizens.

Creating awareness of the value of open data 

The Lab began as a collaboration with the Jakarta administration to raise awareness of how openly available government data can improve people’s lives. Our work sought to demonstrate that open data can have real value when the government uses it to create more effective policies and better respond to citizens’ needs, and when citizens and activists use it to hold the government accountable.

At the local level, we provided expert support to scope and plan Jakarta’s open data programme and ran data skills training sessions and peer-learning exchanges for government officials. We also provided legal advice on the government regulations and technical guidelines necessary to ensure effective and efficient production and release of open data. 

Taking the lessons learned from these experiences, we worked closely with the Jakarta City Government to influence other local and regional governments in Indonesia to implement their own open data initiatives. 

We then scaled this advocacy to educate the national government on the benefits of adopting the International Open Data Charter, efforts that culminated in President Joko Widodo signing the One Data policy in 2019 to improve data governance practices in the country.

Supporting the implementation of open data initiatives

With the necessary infrastructure, procedures, and partnerships in place, the Lab shifted beyond raising awareness of open data to supporting its use for greater financial transparency, government accountability, and gender inclusive development.

To support civil society organisations to use open data for positive change, we developed customised training modules and knowledge products made freely available to the public under an open license. 

By harnessing the unique strengths of each of our partners and supporting them to achieve their objectives, we contributed to tangible change through several notable projects.

We collaborated with our long-time partner Gerak Aceh to convince the provincial government of Aceh to proactively disclose mining data and used that data to successfully advocate for a change in mining policy. We worked with local watchdog organisation Indonesia Procurement Watch to strengthen disclosure practices of public procurement data. We joined the Center for Innovation and Policy Governance to understand how citizen data in Jakarta can be used to reduce traffic congestion, provide better public services, and enhance the city’s response to flooding. We worked with budget transparency organisation IDEA Yogyakarta to build models for women to use open data to influence budgeting processes and demand better services

At the regional level, through activities such as the Regional Open Data Agenda-Setting Workshop and the Research Partners Workshop, we strengthened our role as lead convenor for open data initiatives in Southeast Asia. We organised the Open Data Innovation Week to co-create tools and methods with innovators and government representatives from across the Asia-Pacific region.    

Empowering citizens through open data 

The Lab’s recent work focuses on identifying and addressing the systemic challenges that prevent open data from seeing its impact match its potential. Rather than focusing only on individual empowerment of a few select civil society organisations, we pivoted to a more comprehensive approach to data empowerment. 

Our research demonstrates that building data-empowerment is necessary to put citizens at the centre of data initiatives and give them meaningful influence on the decisions that affect their daily lives. This vision strives to reduce data inequality — a trend likely to persist in the coming years if significant action is not taken.

In 2019, together with our partner Konsil LSM Indonesia, we launched a new project that will promote this shift towards data empowerment for increased financial transparency and gender inclusive development through the work of a coalition of change agents across 48 civil society organisations and four cities. Collaborating with a multi-stakeholder group, we developed a strategic plan to improve data availability and quality, as well as addressing the mismatch between open data publication and re-use.

A legacy to celebrate

Over the past six years, we’ve seen open data become a driving force in civil society advocacy in Indonesia, from budgets and elections, to procurement and education reform. We’re proud of our work to champion open data and empower civil society organisations and citizens to use it to create positive social, economic and political change. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our local partners to promote wider participation and inclusion in the open data movement. 

For more information about Open Data Lab, follow us at @ODLabJkt and visit

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