Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ): A couple of years back you worked on a report on civic engagement and new media in Indonesia. What is your perspective on the open data movement in Indonesia today and how can it favour citizen engagement?
Shita: Citizens are drivers of change; when we look at the major changes around the world (e.g. the Arab spring, Reformasi in Indonesia or leadership changes in the Philippines), the major actor –though not the only one– is the citizen. With new forms of digital and social media becoming more widespread, there is potential to amplify citizens' voices and foster better dialogue between citizens and public institutions. That movement is gaining momentum and the same goes for open data. That is very clear when we talk to people involved in the open data movement for quite some time and hear about their experiences in their own countries; for example in Kenya and in the Philippines. It is very important to consult citizens in order to optimize the utility of the data being opened up. Of course it is good when data is made available but the next challenge is how to make sure the data is presented in a way that is useful for people.
PLJ: What motivated you to organize HackJakarta and what are your expectations for the event?
Shita: Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI) is trying to build a supportive ecosystem involving many stakeholders to achieve public sector transparency and accountability. For us, that translates into encouraging the adoption of user-friendly technology, meeting user demand and engaging citizens. We also hope we can contribute to achieving a more accountable governance mechanism.
PLJ: The Open Government Partnership summit in May seems like a great opportunity to advance the open data agenda in Indonesia. What are you looking forward to?
Shita: The public discourse is still quite limited when compared to other regions. But we are seeing anecdotal evidenceof initiatives cropping up here and there. I hope that the summit in May will bring to the fore more stories from which we can learn, more exchange of experience, perhaps later, some peer learning between the Asia Pacific countries.