Building Cities Of The Future Part 2 of 2

Continued from Previous Article: Building Cities Of The Future Part 1

Despite economic and job expansions, the situation of informal employment—often known as jobs with low productivity and income and unsafe work practices—has not changed. Job opportunities for young people (aged 15-24) are still underdeveloped. From the prevailing data, unemployment in Indonesia has reached a fairly good rate (5.81% and 5.5% in 2015 and 2016 respectively). Nevertheless, if we look at the contribution of unpaid family workers, the data show that Indonesia has a significant number of family workers (17% of total workers) compared to that of Germany (0.6% of total workers) or even that of neighboring countries such as Singapore (0.6% of total workers), Malaysia (4.4% of total workers) and the Philippines (12% of total workers). This indicates that there are still many Indonesian workers who have not been paid properly.


What is the cause? I think the answer is quite clear: the limitation of skills!


In Germany, the Federal Employment Agency has a large budget so that it can be supported by 133,000 people compared to 1,206 people who support employment service and creation of Directorate General of Manpower Development and Placement, Indonesia’s Manpower Ministry. This figure is even worse than that of the pre-regional autonomy era which accounted for 2,033 people. In addition to skill mismatch, companies still seem reluctant to use employment service because the government bureaucracy is still very inefficient.


The infrastructure condition is also as alarming considering that the Logistic Performance Index (LPI) of Indonesia (59th) is low and in ASEAN region it is still under that of Vietnam (53rd), Philippines (52nd), Thailand (38th). Malaysia (29th) and Singapore (1st rank). The city of the future is the one supported by adequate infrastructure. These figures are certainly not satisfactory. If so, is there any hope ahead?


The city of the future is formed by its people. What about infrastructure? Skills? And other indicators? All of those are sufficient condition. The people who live in the city are necessary condition, the main requirement.


Accordingly, we need a Quadruple Helix combination comprising the government, the private sector, the university, and the community. Digital disruption which, according to Lindgren, is one of the biggest challenges, can be empowered to make a quantum leap to shape the city in the future, with of course, proper functioning of the Quadruple Helix. Physical infrastructure limitations can be overcome by creating digital innovation. A good example is Google’s Project Loon. Without having to wait long for physical infrastructure to be built, this fleet of balloons can be flown over the nation’s remote areas to extend Internet connectivity.


What about the limited skills of Indonesian workers? Will they be replaced by machines? Especially in such era of digital disruption as today, can they still survive? The answer is yes!


Take Go-Jek drivers for example. Most of them have high school education and lower, with several previous occupations that require only limited skills. Nonetheless, practically now they become tech-savvy workers with good technology literacy. Another example is farmers who are empowered by I-Grow. What is I-Grow? If you know the game FarmVille, you can define I-Grow as FarmVille in reality. The farmers who work at I-Grow are mostly only elementary school graduates, but if you look at their skills, you will surely be amazed. These farmers are taught to make organic fertilizer by experimental methods and they are very fluent in doing so; one thing that perhaps an IPB (Bogor Institute of Agriculture) graduate is incapable to do.


With support from the government, the private sector, the campus, and the community, these examples could be scaled up to the national level so that the quantum leap is no longer utopic.


What about most Indonesian cities that are dominated by informality? Once again, the issue is optimizing the role of Quadruple Helix. A study conducted by the University of Sydney on the informality in the shantytown corner of Bandung reveals that this informality, if managed properly, will be able to produce a new balance point in the future, to build and to integrate with the community.


Thus, the concept of future city is the concept of smart city, which is able to foster connectivity among citizens, is centered on citizens, and works for them. Technology is just a sweetener, while the citizens are the center. Let us contemplate—for whom our future cities are made?

This article is published with permission from Dr. Fithra Faisal Hastiadi, S.E., MSE., M.A

Staff ahli Dekan Bidang Riset fakultas ekonomi dan bisnis Universitas Indonesia

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Dr. Fithra Faisal Hastiadi, S.E., MSE., M.A Staff ahli Dekan Bidang Riset fakultas ekonomi dan bisnis Universitas Indonesia
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