(1 October - Jakarta) What can Tweets tell us about inflation? Are internet searches reliable predictors of disease outbreak? And can mobile phone data tell us about whether public health campaigns are successful? These are the types of questions that will be explored at Pulse Lab Jakarta, an innovation center created to explore how digital data sources (like social media, mobile phone data or internet content) and real-time analytics technologies can support development planning.
The first of its kind in Asia, Pulse Lab Jakarta was launched today at multimedia event at Cyber 2 Tower in downtown Jakarta. Pulse Lab Jakarta is a joint project of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Global Pulse initiative in partnership with the Government of Indonesia.
During her keynote address, Prof. Dr. Armida S. Alisjahbana, Minister for National Development Planning/Head of Bappenas, said “We are proud to introduce these new tools for development planning and programming here in Indonesia – and to be at the forefront in this type of research.” The UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia, Mr. El-Mostafa Benlamlih, added that “Indonesia is a country where new approaches in development can be pioneered. Other countries may benefit in the future from Indonesia’s bold approach to innovative data research through private-public partnerships.”
Indonesia, with a population that actively uses digital technologies, as well as a fast-growing tech business sector, is one of the world’s richest sources of digital data, which is commonly called "Big Data" due to its sheer quantity, diversity and speed.
At the launch event, Global Pulse Director Robert Kirkpatrick said the field of Big Data analysis is developing quickly. He said that in the last two years Global Pulse has been able to attract some of the world’s best data analysts and private sector companies who recognize that data can be a resource of the public good, and that the Pulse Lab in Jakarta will do the same to foster such partnerships in Indonesia.
Today’s launch event featured initial finding from Pulse Lab Jakarta’s first project, a collaboration with two technology partners –SAS and Crimson Hexagon – which focused on the potential of using social media analytics to identify populations and regions under stress as a result of fluctuating prices of commodities like food and fuel. The goal of the exploration was to see whether social media could help detect, quantify and understand, trends related to the community’s concerns and coping strategies, in real-time.
Pulse Lab researchers identified content in Indonesian Twitter, blogs and other social media from the past two-years related to price and supply of food and fuel, and analyzed them to understand volume, sentiment, mood and geographic origin, and then compared the trends over time to official government statistics.
At the launch, Dr. Ir. Lukita Dinarsyah Tuwo, Vice Minister for National Development Planning and Dr. Vivi Yulaswati, MSc, Director of Social Protection and Welfare, Bappenas demonstrated preliminary evidence of real-time social media’s potential for improving the public sector’s capacity to assess vulnerability to rising prices of food and fuel by approximating official statistics.
Over the coming year, the Pulse Lab will collaborate on projects with partners such as ILO, UNICEF and WFP, researching changes in social welfare, especially with regard to food and fuel prices, and employment issues in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Makassar (South Sulawesi) and Medan (North Sumatera).
The launch event ended with an opportunity to learn and network among an Innovation Showcase, featuring Global Pulse partners SAS, and CSIRO - Australia's national science agency - which will be working closely with Pulse Lab Jakarta on a geo-spatial mapping effort, as well as MercyCorps, who showcased a program that maps health innovations in Indonesia called Center For Health Market Innovations, and a program called Agri-Fin that disseminates agriculture information via text messaging, Politicawave.com, a local Indonesian company with a unique, real-time social media analytics technology, NokiaLife - an SMS service which provides advice and information on health, agriculture, and more to thousands of users across Indonesia and SouthEast Asia, and a joint project between Institute Technology Telkom and Microsoft called LIFE which is exploring the use of Microsoft computing tools and real-time data to address child malnutrition.