Smart Change Project: Knowledge Sharing Collaboration Between Jakarta and Berlin

by:Amira Sofa

Editor:Aditya Gagat Hanggara

21 Oct 2021

The ease of connecting with each other in the era of digitalization has resulted in many advantages. The government sector is no exception. As is known, Jakarta strives to become a smart city. This is in line with Berlin, a city located tens of thousands of kilometers from Jakarta. With the convenience of the digital era, these two cities can break through barriers of distance and time to collaborate to build Smart Change. Smart Change is a project funded by the European Union with the aim of increasing integrated city development in order to support the 2030 agenda on sustainable development by accelerating digital transformation and supporting the Jakarta 4.0 city transformation program.

The Jakarta Smart City team had the opportunity to interview Kariem El-Ali, Policy Advisor for the Jakarta Provincial Government and Helen Franke as Smart City Governance international Policy Expert for Smart City Governance regarding the collaboration between Jakarta and Berlin.

Jakarta and Berlin Collaboration Journey

Karim explained that the collaboration between Jakarta and Berlin in Smart Change started from the good relationship between the two cities as sister cities. If we look back, the partnership between the two cities has existed since 1994. However, it was only in 2016 that Jakarta and Berlin expanded their partnership by connecting their start-up ecosystems. Further agendas such as conferences and annual delegation visits to Jakarta and Berlin were also held. Then, based on discussions between the Jakarta and Berlin governments at a conference organized by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Berlin appointed Kariem as an integrated expert for the Jakarta Provincial Government with the aim of strengthening partnerships with the Indonesian capital.

The partnership between the two cities continues. In 2019, when the European Union invited municipal governments to propose a program, Jakarta and Berlin saw this as a golden opportunity. Both of them submitted a Smart Change proposal. Long story short, they received EU funding and continued to grow the projects. Run by the Jakarta Smart City Unit Agency from the Department of Communications, Informatics, and Statistics of DKI Jakarta together with the Department of Economy, Energy, and Public Companies from the Berlin Senate, Smart Change now has various activities that support its two pillars, namely: 1) strengthening Jakarta's governance and capacity for efficient local government administration to support the creation of a more informative, transparent and collaborative city, 2) develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem, encourage systemic innovation, economic resilience, and job creation by empowering entrepreneurs and conducting cross-sector collaboration. “These two pillars are equally important to develop sustainable innovation as well as innovative solutions for Jakarta. Both of them require a different set of activities, but there are possible cross-sectoral references,” Helen added.

There is not only difference in the series of activities from the two pillars. But also different addressing. Undoubtedly, addressing the public officials or experts in the field of public administration is different from addressing startups and entrepreneurs. Thus, in the first pillar related to smart city governance, the policy recommendations made by Smart Change are based on a pilot that is more holistic, cross-sectoral or policy-based, and does not only focus on business as in the pilot foundation of the second pillar.

Impactful Activities for City Governance Practitioners and Entrepreneurs

From the two pillars, a number of impactful activities for city governance practitioners and entrepreneurs were held. Some of them include a series of webinars, workshops, and conferences which are regularly held every year with different topics, such as smart mobility, waste management, and etc. These Smart Change activities are also a form of knowledge exchange and efforts to solve urban problems faced by the two countries.

[Smart Change Conference 2021: Urban Collaboration]

For the upcoming Smart Change activity, Helen gave a brief overview, “One of the big activities for us is an online exchange and learning platform which is planned to be launched in March 2022. This platform will help Jakarta Smart City and DKI Jakarta as a whole, to reach stakeholders who are connected with smart city challenges or affected areas, and so on.” In addition, throughout the year, Smart Change will hold Program Designers Labworkshops. If everything goes well, in the future there will be a Future City Hubin Jakarta. "With the presence of Future City Hub later, hopefully there'll be more interaction and cooperation between start-ups and city governments," she added.

Karim and Helen also shared the process behind determining the topics for Smart Change activities. The Smart Change team strives to choose topics that match the momentum of Jakarta, have a positive impact, are interesting and can foster dialogue with the community. “Basically, we have the tools for policy development and discussion of urgent urban challenges. We always discuss related topics that will be brought up with our partners. What are the urgent urban challenges today? We also relate it to the current situation. Like since the Covid-19 pandemic, we also discussed challenges related to Covid-19, because more or less it will affect mobility issues, air pollution, the environment, waste management, and other urban issues," Karim explained.

Collaboration Beyond Challenges During the Pandemic

Seeing the intense cooperation between various parties involving two cities from two countries, even continents, of course, we get curious. How is the coordination done? What obstacles often arise?

Helen revealed that her current work is done online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “There are a lot of changes and we have to be able to adapt, especially regarding the level of operation of other cities. Fortunately, our partners in Jakarta are most able to work digitally and are open to various issues,” said Helen. Karim continued, “This shows that Jakarta, and as well as European cities, are important partners, especially for Berlin. That is also why the European Union supports the Smart Change activities. Starting from similar urban challenges, we can increase dialogue, exchange knowledge, and synergize.”

This year marks the 27 years of collaboration between Jakarta and Berlin as a sister city. At the end of the interview, Karim and Helen expressed their hopes regarding Smart Change and the sister city cooperation in general. “So far, we have created so many interlocking points, so there is potential for more sustainable development between Jakarta and Berlin. Hopefully our collaboration will continue in the future.” Meanwhile, Karim has stated his hopes on the continuation of the existing activities. "Our current project will be running until November 2022. In the future, we hope that there will be opportunities for continued dialogue, starting longer-running pilot projects than Smart Change, or creating investment opportunities and access for ecosystem actors to collaborate."

That was a glimpse of the intricacies of Smart Change and the 27-year-old Jakarta-Berlin collaboration. After reading the details of the collaboration between Jakarta and Berlin, are you interested in participating in the activities? If you do, you can visit Smart Change’s official websiteand find out more about urban innovation or the development of smart city concepts.

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