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Indonesia: G-readiness for future

Deepali Roy
Assistant Editor, Geospatial World
[email protected]

Sarah Hisham
Business Development Manager – SEAPAC
[email protected]


Shedding legacies and moving beyond ‘business as usual’ mindset, Indonesia is accelerating its economic transformation and evolving a new way of working. It is strengthening traditional drivers with new technologies and evolving infrastructure to carry the nation forward. Here’s an insight into the geospatial scenario of a country which has recently approved the landmark Geospatial Information Act

A former Dutch colony, the world’s fourth most populous country and the largest economy of Southeast Asia, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic State consisting of more than 17,000 islands. Indonesia’s size, tropical climate and archipelagic geography, support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. Split by the equator, the nation is almost entirely tropical in climate. Indonesia has a mixed economy in which both the private sector and government play significant roles. Indonesia weathered the global financial crisis relatively smoothly because of its heavy reliance on domestic consumption as the driver of economic growth. Although the economy slowed significantly in 2009 from the 6%-plus growth rate recorded in 2007 and 2008, by 2010 growth returned to 6% and is forecast to touch 6.2%-6.5% in 2011. During the recession, Indonesia outperformed its regional neighbours and joined China and India as the only G20 members posting growth, according to CIA World Factbook. The government made economic advances under the first administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, introducing significant reforms in the financial sector, including tax and customs reforms, the use of Treasury bills, and capital market development and supervision. Indonesia’s debt-to-GDP ratio in recent years has declined steadily because of increasingly robust GDP growth and sound fiscal stewardship. Yudhoyono’s re-election suggests broad continuity of economic policy.


Government support
The government has been an active promoter of geospatial technology, through its usage and supporting regulations and policies that favour geospatial technology. Law No. 17/2007 on National Long Term Development Plan, for example, mandates that spatial dimension be incorporated into development planning framework, informs Ir. Arifin Rudiyanto, Director for Regional Development, National Development Planning Agency. Industry too acknowledges the role of government. Bima Priadi, Country Manager, Esri Indonesia observes that one of the key drivers for geospatial technology in Indonesia has been the support from the parliament and government, not only in terms of regulation but also the awareness that promotes top-down approach.

One of the most significant developments facilitating the geospatial industry is the recently passed Geospatial Information Act. Geospatial Information Act No. 4 2011, mandates a single reference for official maps and that all basic geospatial data will come under the national surveying agency BAKOSURTANAL.

NSDI Development Project

The NSDI Development Project, being developed by BAKOSURTANAL, aims at providing a foundation for the national geospatial data sharing system that consists mainly of geospatial database development and sharing of the geospatial database amongst producers and user communities, informs Dr. Karsidi. The project consists of:
  • Consulting services for project assistance covering the process of procurements, project management, technical supervisions and geospatial data utilisation
  • Acquisition and production of geospatial data for Sumatera island at scale 1:50,000 and its four cities at scale 1:10,000.
  • Development of NSDI networking and security system, geospatial data centre and its application and node network connection to eleven government agencies.

The project, in its acquisition and production of geospatial data, will deploy new technologies including interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IF-SAR), digital aerial photography, softcopy photogrammetry, DEM, high resolution satellite orthoimagery, seamless geospatial databases and topographical data structure and digital cartography and digital printing. The project is currently on-going and is scheduled to be completed by 2014.

Growing demand
Indonesia has been witnessing growth in the demand for various kinds of geospatial data. Industry stakeholders observe that the demand for satellite imagery is growing steadily, especially from the local government to support their decision making, spatial planning and natural resources monitoring. Need for quick, reliable information is fuelling the geospatial industry, opines Dr. Ir. Ruandha Agung Sugardiman, Deputy Director of Spatial Data Network, Directorate Forest Resources Inventory and Monitoring, Directorate General of Forestry Planning, Ministry of Forestry.

Regional development
The government recognises that a spread-out economic growth and reduced inter-regional gaps are vital for national development. While developing the regions, it also recognises the significance of geospatial data. The Regional Development Section of National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENNAS) oversees the geospatial aspects of developments at regional level. Ir. Arifin Rudiyanto informs that it is compulsory for all local governments to come up with a spatial plan in their province. This implies significant opportunities for geospatial technology at provincial level as well, he adds.


Agriculture is key to the economy of Indonesia, accounting for 43% of total employment. In 2010, it contributed 11.5 percent to the national economy. Key geospatial initiatives are driven by the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry looks after food crop, plantation, livestock and horticulture. It has been using GIS since 2006 to map flood and draught prone areas in Sumatera, Java and Bali. The maps were produced at 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 scales. Paddy is the main crop in Indonesia. The Ministry uses geospatial to estimate the productivity. It mapped the paddy fields for the whole of Java in 2010. Its mission is to create 2 million hectares of paddy field in the country. This year, the Ministry is planning to map the paddy fields in Bali, Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara Barat. Another project in the pipeline is to map Sumatera using LiDAR and aerial photo.

Public works
Public works uses geospatial technology as a tool for regional planning of infrastructure development programmes and to monitor the work progress of infrastructure development programmes. In 2010, the Ministry started to develop its own geodatabase. Currently the framework is ready; the Ministry is in the process of data collection and uploading.

The ministry monitors infrastructure projects under its purview, including national roads, dams and catchment, and national and regional settlement facilities, on an annual basis. A public portal is in the pipeline, which aims to share Ministry of Public Works’ maps with users. The portal will consist of infrastructure map, disaster map, satellite imagery, administrative map and thematic map.

Land Information

The custodian of land records in the country, National Land Agency (BPN), is one of the largest users in geospatial technology in Indonesia. BPN is currently responsible in managing and administrating approximately 90 million individual land parcels. Its main mission is to digitise all land records in Indonesia, of which currently only 40 million have been registered and about 20 percent of it is in digital format. BPN is also planning to develop a cadastral geodatabase that integrates all provinces office, informs Dr. Irawan Sumarto, Director – Base Mapping, BPN. Investments are also being made into surveying and mapping activities. Dr. Karsidi informs that the government has approved USD 156 million for five years (2009- 14) for basic geospatial data activities.


About 70 percent of Indonesia, or about 134 million hectare, is forest area, under authority of Ministry of Forestry. With the key businesses in forestry being spatial in nature, the Ministry has been using geospatial technology in its processes since 1990 when it started using GIS and DIAS (Digital Image Analysis System) for National Forest Inventory, informs Dr. Ir. Ruandha Agung Sugardiman of Directorate General of Forestry Planning. Indonesia has the world’s third-largest tropical forest and a high rate of deforestation, making it the thirdlargest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono committed to reducing Indonesia’s CO2 emissions by 26% against a business-as-usual trajectory in 2020, the largest absolute reduction commitment made by any developing country.

Indonesia is a significant player in the global mining industry with significant levels of production of coal, copper, gold, tin and nickel. Indonesia is among the world’s largest exporters of thermal coal. In recent years, the mining industry has contributed approximately 4-5 percent to the total Indonesian GDP, according to PricewaterHouse Coopers. Another significance of the mining industry is its contribution towards the regional economy and development. The government is aiming to increase the contribution of the mining industry to national GDP in the coming years through focusing on large scale infrastructure projects and an improved regulatory climate.

With an increase in both the global economy and increasing commodity prices, Indonesia is well placed to capitalise on the global demand for commodities.

With many untouched mining areas in Indonesia, Geological Agency has undertaken a project to identify map mineral potential using GIS techniques. The project is scheduled during 2011-2014.

Oil and gas
One of the pillars of the Indonesian economy, the oil and gas sector is estimated to have contributed USD 23.3 billion to government revenues, or 20.9 percent of the total revenues in 2010. U.S. companies have invested heavily in Indonesia’s petroleum sector. Indonesia ranked third in world liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports production in 2010. Indonesia’s oil, oil products and gas trade balance was negative in 2008 with a USD 1.4 billion deficit, but became positive again in 2009 with a USD 29.4 million surplus, according to official statistics.

Eko Darminto, New Ventures Division, GIS, Topo and Carto Engineer, Total E & P Indonesie, says that with the increasing amount of data in oil and gas exploration and production processes across various departments, companies are turning to GIS to manage this quantum of data. Another reason why accurate geospatial data is important in oil & gas in Indonesia is the government ownership system of oil fields. All oil companies act as contractors to government, having a production-sharing contract to maintain share of production value. Having accurate information helps minimise losses during bidding stage.

The Geological Agency is producing an atlas for oil and gas basins to be used by the DG of Oil and Gas to investigate potential exploration areas. The project is valued at USD 4 mn for 2010 and USD 7.5 mn in 2011.


The government’s economic plans acknowledge that accelerated economic growth needs additional quantity and increased quality of the nation’s infrastructure and have earmarked significant investments into infrastructure development all over the country over the next few years. The National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN 2010-2014) identifies infrastructure development as one of the national priorities.

Economic corridors

Indonesia has identified acceleration and expansion of economic development as key supporters in its transformation into a developed country by 2025. To this end, it has unveiled the Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia Economic Development (Master plan Percepatan dan Perluasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Indonesia – MP3EI). The MP3EI plan includes creation of six economic corridors to facilitate efficient goods and human movement in Indonesia. Presently most of the movements are concentrated in Java so the government wants to promote new growth centres outside Java.

To support the development of the main economic activities within the corridors, the total investment which will be implemented during 2011 – 2014 has been identified at about USD 450 billion.

Disaster management
Indonesia’s location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Disaster management programmes are developed and implemented through the analysis of information. Using GIS approaches allows emergency management needs to be identified prior to an incident. Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB)’s initiative Geospatial BNPB is a web-based spatial information system that provides spatial information such as administrative boundaries map information by province and nationally, topographical maps with 1:250.000 scale in PDF format with high resolution that can be downloaded for free which is very useful for a preliminary description of an area and can be used pre-disaster, during emergency respond and after disasters.

IT Infrastructure: While the demand for geospatial data is steadily growing and the data is becoming increasingly available on the Internet, the IT infrastructure in terms of Internet bandwidth and connectivity is not matching up.

Bureaucratic issues: Bureaucratic issues including inefficient government machinery and red tape have been impediments to nation’s development. Projects often take off but get stalled or delayed, inform industry stakeholders. However, to address this issue, the government has set up Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), which reports directly to the President of Indonesia. Its main responsibility is to make sure all priority projects promised by the President during his campaign are on schedule and will complete within the presidential term (2009-2014), informs T. Nirarta Samadhi of UKP4. Every Ministry and State Agency must report on their project progress.

Data development: Having taken regulatory initiatives in developing the geospatial industry, an important issue is to develop geospatial data itself so that its use can be maximised for nation’s development, says Dr Karsidi. He informs that BAKOSURTANAL, as the developer of basic data, is providing guidance in terms of technology, methodology and system on how other organisations can develop geospatial data. Dr. Karsidi also stresses that the need of the hour is for all geospatial players in the country to come together to develop the Indonesian Spatial Data Infrastructure, INA-SDI.

Untapped potential of new technologies: Even though a lot of new technologies are making their presence felt, their implementation still faces some challenges owing to both technical and awareness issues. For LiDAR or any aerial survey activity for example which require a flight clearance approval, one needs to go through several government offices, informs Raja Simbolon – Business Development Manager, SURTECH Group. There are only a very small number of aircrafts that can be used within the country which directly affects the project cost and schedule, he adds.

Other challenges: Stakeholders feel there are a number of other challenges facing the industry. These pertain to funds for geospatial activities, qualitative manpower to meet the growing demand, availability and accessibility of geospatial data, accuracy and currency of available data, standardisation of data and low level of awareness among government officials to use geospatial information.

With its vast size, large economy and further acceleration of economic transformation, Indonesia offers variety of opportunities waiting to be tapped. As a fast emerging user of geospatial technology, it has had its share of hiccups but has in place a very forward looking Geospatial Information Act which has the potential to iron out these hiccups and take the geospatial industry to the next level.