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Using social media to manage a city: The Ridwan Kamil way

By his own admission, albeit light heartedly, Ridwan Kamil is the ‘Twitter guy who became a Mayor’. As Indonesia’s Mayor of Bandung, Mr Kamil has given the country an example of how social media can be leveraged by political leaders to make a visible difference to people’s lives. Mr Kamil was recently addressing the advertising, media and marketing fraternity at the Asia Pacific Media Forum (APMF) 2014. If the reaction to his address is anything to go by, Mr Kamil has earned his respect in the eyes of this community.

Bandung is the largest city by population in Indonesia. By profession, Mr Kamil is an architect, and it is perhaps this skillset that lends him the art of building, and knowing what goes behind a good structure.

While he has experienced various social media platforms, the one platform that he uses the most to engage with Bandung’s people is Twitter. Mr Kamil attributes this to the fact that the platform is most popularly used by the people of Bandung, making it simpler for him to interact with them.

In his tenure, he has used social media as a tool not only to connect deeper with people but also to manage the city and enable better and faster communication. Under his supervision, every department in Bandung was asked to have a Twitter account that was utilised for various activities such as information sharing and submitting visual reports of the work that needed to be done in the course of the city’s development.

Elaborating on this, Mr Kamil said, “Suppose if a road is broken and has to be mended, the authorities are required to send a picture of the damaged road and then a picture after the job is done. This is a visual reporting system. We used social media to revolutionise this so that there is a check on the civic work that needs to be done, and there are filters to ensure that it is done.”

Mr Kamil recognises that being connected is crucial to the future of a city, and he hence installed 5000 free WiFi points across the city of Bandung. He set up a text and Facebook based complaint system for people in his city. To bring accountability, and establish metrics on the basis of data, he also instituted a scoring card for the heads of district, where the people who faced a problem, had to thank the Head of the District upon the solving of a problem for it to count as a merit in the official’s work record.

“This also gave me something tangible to speak to my head of districts to, and tell them if they were doing a great job or not,” stated Mr Kamil.

He spoke on the importance of an entrepreneurial government that was built by ‘collaboration’ and was not always dependent on city budgets. “The WiFi hotspots we installed were done in collaboration with a telecom operator. The rise in technology and the impact that it has on people’s lives have given birth to a new way of living, and it is up to us to explore and make the most of that. Social media has been an enabler in this. These efforts are in line with my ambition to make Bandung Indonesia’s Silicon Valley,” the Mayor stated.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.