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’We are evolving from sporadic initiatives to collaborative efforts’

Traditionally, the stakeholders of mapping in Indonesia conducted their activities individually without any coordination towards data collecting and data sharing. The huge budgets allocated for these activities therefore…..

Bima Priadi
Country Manager
Esri Indonesia

In an exclusive interview with Geospatial World, Bima Priadi shares the opportunities and challenges for the Indonesia geospatial industry

Esri Indonesia has been associated with the Indonesia geospatial industry for a long time, since 1990. How do you perceive the evolution of geospatial industry in the country over these years?

Traditionally, the stakeholders of mapping in Indonesia conducted their activities individually without any coordination towards data collecting and data sharing. The huge budgets allocated for these activities therefore did not seem to produce expected value to the community. Getting spatial data was tough, getting updated spatial data was even tougher. The yearly meetings of SIGNAS (National GIS) identified ”collaborative efforts” as the only way to achieve the desired results. In early 2000, the NSDI development initiative gained momentum. However, making people understand this initiative was quite a challenge. We had no choice but to do that. Getting political support from the central government was another long and winding road. The national mapping agency BAKOSURTANAL (now BIG) took the lead to move forward step by step.

As a company, we have been evolving from sporadic initiatives to colaborative efforts.

Use of geospatial technology has been seen to pick up steadily in Indonesia in recent years. What according to you are the factors that are growing the use of geospatial information and technology in the country?

Indonesia has witnessed a healthy economic growth in recent years. Economic growth implies more activities, requiring more information including geospatial information. Another factor fuelling the growth is government’s political will. The government’s commitment to provide authoritative data to the public was the key to opening of the window for more activities to be supported with geospatial information. There is also more geospatial awareness at various levels. BAKOSURTANAL’s years of efforts, with our (Esri Indonesia) long support, has contributed to spreading awareness about the power of geospatial information to deal with the challenges that various sectors deal with, given our unique geographic shape with thousands of islands.

Which sectors have been the traditional users of geospatial technology in Indonesia, and which segments are the upcoming, promising users of the technology?

The traditional users have been mapping institutions, forestry, land administration and public works, while the upcoming uses are in the areas of mining, plantation, oil industry, utility, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, climate change

Indonesia has recently approved the Geospatial Information Act. How do you see it impacting the country’s geospatial ecosystem?

This Act is umbrella for various collaborative geospatial efforts. Moreover, it means greater budget allocation for geospatial activities. Also, this act is a sanctuary of about 100 more Acts. With clear regulations on spatial information in place, the main obstacles, of reluctance in collecting, producing, using, sharing, could be reduced.

Indonesia is also actively developing its National Spatial Data Infrastructure. What is Esri Indonesia’s role in it? We are involved in delivering the technology and educating people to use and to develop the applications.

Indonesia is investing heavily in developing its infrastructure as it gears up to meet its economic growth targets. How is the adoption of latest technology in developing infrastructure in Indonesia? The adoption of the latest technology used to be low earlier since there were not much challenges in infrastructure development. That is not the case now. Now there are challenges of more efficiency and effectiveness, faster processes and more competitiveness. Planning infrastructure in Indonesia with its unique geographic shape, is all about about spatial analysis, and people are aware of it. We have six main economic coridoors, one of it is infrastructure. This corridor has been planned based on massive spatial informartion using Esri technology.

Esri Indonesia has been active in promoting the awareness and adoption of GIS in the country. Can you highlight some such initiatives?

We actively conduct user groups seminars and workshops and collaborate in government efforts towards road shows. For years, we have been actively supporting BAKOSURTANAL in doing ”socialisation” of NSDI to ministries, local governments and universities. We also support professional organisations and NGOs in such initiatives.

Do you customise any of Esri global offerings to suit local requirements?

We did so, more in the past. Currently it is lesser. The technology now is such that there is lesser need to customise.

What are the challenges you face as a technology vendor?

One of our biggest challenges is that getting human resources to support the technology is not so easy. We still need to develop more engineers for that. Also, the unique geographic shape of the country, with inadequate internet access, makes it tough to reach the users.