Every citizen of Jakarta has done it at least once – vented out their anger towards public service in social media. But to what avail? Their frustration goes unnoticed by authorities, building up spam on their friends’ timelines, and that pile of garbage on the street that has been there for weeks remains unmoved.
But this app is probably the end of that cycle.
Qlue is a mobile app that uses the features of a social media platform, such as a comments section and photo posts, to monitor public service performance. With its sister-app CROP, which is meant to be used by government officials, Qlue encourages Jakarta citizens to report any kind of violation: From garbage that has not been picked up for weeks, to walls that have been vandalised by graffiti.
“Basically, what we are doing here is encouraging citizens to be actively involved in improving their neighbourhood,” says Ivan Tigana, Head of Marketing and Sales of Qlue.
He further elaborates that the app is meant to complement the Jakarta Smart City campaign, a programme that aims to increase the municipal government’s transparency and accountability in the digital era. “The programme cannot possibly [have] happened without the role of social media. Twitter, Waze and Indonesia’s own Qlue are involved in this,” he says.
Gerry Mangentang, VP of Data and Research of Qlue, explains to e27 how the app works.
The main section functions as a photo-sharing platform where users share their report. Above the comments section, there are red, yellow, and green circles that allow users to know whether their report have been followed up on or not. Once it is done, government officials have to ‘reply’ with a photo of the result – garbage that has been cleaned or walls that have been painted – and users are able to rate their results.
“The rule here is that government officials have to take the photo from exactly the same angle as the first photo. So we can be sure that they have done their job. No more hoaxes or tricks,” he says. “The system allows reports to be processed directly, at a much shorter time,” he adds.
Qlue uses the concept of gamification to encourage active participation from both citizens and government officials.
Top performing districts are being ranked from the highest to the lowest score, based on the number of reports they managed to follow up on and finish. For every report that they post, users get coins to buy cute avatars that seem to represent every kind of person living in Jakarta. These avatars help users maintain anonymity when using the app.
The app also provides other features such as a discussion forum, restaurant recommendations, TransJakarta bus tracker, and even a section dedicated to praise government officials that have done their job right.
When government and startups join hands
When they first developed the prototype for the app, the Founders had no intention to work together with the government. But then they were approached by DKI Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama himself to develop an app to support the Jakarta Smart City programme.
By far, Qlue has been proven effective in increasing government officials’ performance.
Governor Purnama takes into account good rankings in Qlue as key performance indicators (KPIs) for district heads. Those who succeed will be rewarded while who fail to keep up will be sanctioned.
“In April, the head of Roa Malaka district made headlines when she was fired because of bad performance. She claimed that she had been actively using the app, but then Governor found out that she was lying,” Tigana gives an example.
“She was using a Windows Phone. At the time, our app was only available in Android,” he adds.
“Our main goal is, of course, for every city in the country to use our service,” Tigana says.
Cities across Indonesia have indeed shown interest in using the app.
Mangentang demonstrates on his phone how citizens from cities other than Jakarta have also posted reports through Qlue. The difference is that they cannot have it followed up since their municipal government has not installed CROP yet. “As you can see here, we even have users from Jambi in Sumatra. I think this indicates how enthusiastic people are,” he says.
The app has gathered at least 76,000 users in September. Tigana says that the aim is to reach 100,000 by the end of the month.
Qlue also branches out in terms of the service it provides.It is teaming up with the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) to build emergency warning systems to anticipate the bi-annual flood Jakarta is known for.
The public usually relies on Twitter and conventional media for information such as the water level in disaster-prone areas, but once the system is running, they can go to the app for it. “There will be live monitoring of the water level in strategic locations, and information for the nearest disaster relief centres,” Tigana explains.
Run by a dedicated team of eight members, Qlue and CROP are funded through cross-subsidy from the company’s main projects. At its initial stage, Qlue and CROP were funded by the provincial government of DKI Jakarta.
Though they do not wish to let advertisers in, Tigana states that they are welcoming investors to jump aboard. “We have many great plans for the future. We are now developing a new public relations campaign, which is going to feature celebrities … Would be great if anyone is interested in helping us!” concludes Tigana.