The Evolution of Telecentres and Libraries in Indonesia

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Telecentres, a public place to access computers and the Internet, and libraries aim to serve isolated community to facilitate better access to information and knowledge. Especially in developing countries, telecentres and libraries help in reducing digital divides.

In the development of this concept, telecentres also favour for profit entities as cybercafés, which have similar goals as telecentres. Gomez et al. (2009) includes cybercafé as a telecenter by recognizing the importance of cybercafé in providing access to ICT, although an institution or network doesn’t support it. Cybercafes are located in areas with high income and tourists, yet do offer an important source of public access to ICT.

Looking to the potential of Indonesia, it has 14,516 libraries, 400 telecenters, and 7,000 cybercafés (Gomez et al., 1999). From this statistic, it is interesting to see the potential for growing telecentres in Indonesia. Here are two case studies of the use of libraries as telecentres in Indonesia.

Online Content Library

Public libraries, as the new telecentres, provide public access to ICT in Indonesia. In West Kalimantan, the use of ICT in public libraries is driven by [email protected], an international multilateral relationship between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam in Borneo, a strategic island in the middle of Southeast Asia. The countries have authorities to protect sustainable forest within Borneo.

Supported by more than 16 institutions from 2 states and 3 provinces, [email protected] has important roles to ensure accessibility of information resources about Borneo and was initially founded to use online access to provide key knowledge to citizens on Borneo.

Focusing on forest at the beginning, [email protected] nowadays expands its digital collections to other topics. The good news for local libraries is that the more digital contents, the higher demands to provide computers and Internet access for citizens. Therefore, the need of telecentre equipment in public libraries is high and seen as necessary.

For example, a public library managed by West Kalimantan Provincial Government provides 24 PCs and equips Internet access points for public who need the Internet for both accessing content and seeking books in an online catalogue managed by the library administrators.

Because of the ICs, the library now has increased visitors. Over 340 visitors come to the library every day, including holidays, 7 days a week, and 47,860 visitors came in the last year. Nining, a computer administrator of the library says,

“There is significant increase since the library provide Internet access and open every day, Monday – Saturday from 08.00am to 10.00pm and Sunday from 08.30am to 05.00pm. In addition, 200GB bandwidth quota allocated for this month already run out a week before the end of the month”

Modern Library Concept

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Jakarta’s @america, is an interesting example of how the concepts of telecentres and libraries have evolved to the present day. Unlike telecentre that focuses on providing access to computers, the US Embassy’s funded @america offers its visitors access to resources, learning space, as well as educational advice and guidance. @america interactively engages audience with varied and edgy content-rich activities such as discussions, web chats, competitions, cultural performances and exhibitions.

Moreover, @america equips audiences with the latest mobile devices and Internet connection – all free of charge. @america takes benefits from its location in a popular upmarket shopping mall with its large crowds of regular shoppers. Accordingly, @america is open for public 10am to 9pm daily. To further its impact, @america builds partnership with non-profit organizations, educational institutions and private companies to expand its message.

The idea of @america as a contemporary technology-rich library has superseded the one of a telecentre. As various studies have proven, a telecentre, with its simplistic approach, is unable to either promote social inclusion effectively or bridge the digital divide in underserved communities. With its strong online and offline presence, @america has emerged as an attractive public access venue for multi-facet communication, interaction and learning. People are hungry for knowledge and opportunities; @america delivers exactly that.


Contributors

Eko Prasetyo leads the implementation of Jhpieho’s mHealth initiative in Indonesia. He graduated from MSc. Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) programme at The University of Manchester.

Sofiarti Dyah Anggunia works as Database Analyst at West Kalimantan Provincial Government, Indonesia. She holds an M.Sc in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) from The University of Manchester.

Larastri Kumaralalita is currently member of e-government laboratory in University of Indonesia. She gained MSc. of Management and Information Systems at Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), University of Manchester, and Bachelor in Computer Science, majoring in Information Systems, at Computer Science Faculty, University of Indonesia.

Should Indonesia be Teaching Technology in Schools?

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Did you know that Indonesia launched a new curriculum last year that removed information technology, among other subjects, in favor of Bahasa Indonesia, nationalism and religious studies? Of course the move was controversial, as the information technology and communications (TIK) subject was recently created by the government, and technology skills are seen by many in and outside of Indonesia as key to the future of the country.

But in light of the many failures in incorporating ICT into education, the Indonesian government may have acted with foresight in canceling TIK as an independent subject and instead expecting it to be infused across the curriculum.

Students arguably will learn the tools of technology on their own, while completing their schoolwork for other subjects, or even just via mobile phones as Indonesian lead much of the world in social media use.

And the technology skills that were being taught in some schools, may not be all that useful in the age of mobile devices. The curriculum was designed in 2006, when students needed to lean how to turn on computers, and the use of Microsoft Office, or how to assemble and repair desktop hardware, was considered essential.

However, reducing the emphasis on technology, regardless of the focus of the instruction, is worrisome. Indonesia does need to make sure all its students are familiar with the tools of technology, not just the ones rich enough to own mobile phones or use computers outside of school.

How Indonesians Use ICT and Social Media for Disaster Management

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Indonesia’s Internet penetration isn’t impressive – only 15% of its population is online. However, Indonesia is the fourth populous country, and 95.7 of its users who are online, are on social media (IPRA, 2013). 60 million Indonesians are on Facebook, trailing only the USA and India in total number of users, (Techiasia 2012, WeareSocial 2014). According to the social media agency, Semiocast, in 2013 Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta is also the Twitter capital of the world, with more than 2% of the world’s 10.6 billion tweets .

Indonesia also has the distinction of being at high risk of disaster. Sitting on the Ring of Fire, Indonesia has a history of seismic disaster and is ranked 12th in mortality risk based on the 2009 International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. For example, in 2010, Mount Merapi erupted in Yogyakarta, killing 353 people and since then both Mt. Sinabung and Mt. Kelud volcanos erupted.

The Mt. Sinabung volcano eruption left 16 people dead after four months of eruptions. Around Mt. Kelud, signs of eruption started recently and in February 2014 the government urged for evacuation. The Mt. Kelud eruption occurred on 13 February 2014, and the local government imposed a 10-kilometers exclusion zone to prohibit any activities until March, forcing the evacuation of 100.000 people.

Local government had planned early to alert local inhabitants of the potential for disaster. Prior to the eruption, in the coordination meeting, the vice of local police used several types of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to disseminate early warning regarding the potential of disaster (Surya Online, 2014) and it is interesting to see how the community has utilized their technology to help them in disaster management to avoid more victims and reduce the risks of the disaster.

A comprehensive disaster management consists of 4 phases: mitigation (prevention to reduce risk prior to the disaster occurs), preparation (action to make sure sufficient response and effective recovery), response (immediate action at time the disaster is occurring), and recovery (after disaster when the victims return to home) (Alexander 2001 cited in Coppola, 2007). According to Anggunia (2011), during the Mt. Merapi eruption case, web, online, and social media tools were used in emergency response.

Here are several examples of how the local community used ICT and social media, by taking the story from the recent Mount Kelud eruption in East Java and surroundings, as disaster management tools.

Mitigation and Preparation

In mitigation and preparation, the related government institutions utilized a web portal JalinMerapi.net, which integrates old and new communication technologies, to support coordination between officials and the local community. For example the Geology agency updated the mountain activity status to help local government decide about evacuation needs. Using ICT, the vice police of Kediri district, near Mt. Kelud, disseminated evacuation orders via text message, allowing farmers to evacuate their livestock to safe places (Surya Online, 2014). In social media, the official Twitter account of National Geology Agency or BadanGeologi, National Disaster Management Body (BNPB) posted early warning on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted on February 5th, the BNPB official Twitter account announced that due to the status of the mountain activity, it was escalating its status to Caution (level 2 of 4: status, normal, caution, alert, and watch out), and BNPB coordinated this message with the three affected districts’ disaster management agencies. Five days later, it raised the mountain activity status to Alert level.

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Response

During the response stage, people used social media for posting latest situation in the area of Mount Kelud eruption. Two hours after the eruption, “Mount Kelud erupts… hopefully no casualties”, said Efa on her Twitter account, who lives 35 km from Mt. Kelud, joining multiple users who shared news and information via social media, especially people who live or have family within the area of disaster. Twitter was full of tweets that talked about the event. At least 10 tweets every second were published, most of them were meant to pray for the areas affected by the eruption (Tempo, 2014). The sand and ash rain were the hottest topics on Facebook in the region.

Social media was also used by people from abroad, especially those who intended to travel near to the eruption, to ask about airport openings and the situation caused by volcanic ash. This widespread information allowed people around the world knew the latest situation in the vulnerable areas. Some people and independent organisations spontaneously opened disaster aid programs and posted and promoted them through social media.

The hashtags #PrayforKelud and #Kelud became trending topics of the week on Twitter. People used them to spread information, raising awareness of when the next disaster might happen. People in other part of the nation also used social media to help friends and families around the areas of disaster. For example, they posted how to anticipate and deal with the volcanic ashe This kind of information was very useful.

In addition, social media helped enhance people’s solidaritiy, awakening empathy to help each other. A face book user said, “Social media helps communication process in managing the disasters, particularly person-to-person interaction which is then going to the broader audiences. This can encourage more people to have empathy and help the victims.”

Recovery

In the recovery stage, this leds to a rise in funds and aid from people across the nation, including spreading information about fundraising events. Twitter was used to manage aid distribution. For instance, users told people about when and where victims were allowed to return home, so aid could be distributed to other evacuation places. “Please note, for friends who want to bring aid, that refugees in Batu city – Pujon already back home yesterday”, said @NgalasAdventure. “Aid can be distributed directly to Selorejo – Ngantang – Pare or districts in Kediri: Kepung district, etc”, said his next tweet.

Even a week after eruption, there were still over 1,000 tweets mentioning #PrayforKelud and #Kelud per day. Most of them shared information of victims returning home, because the status of the mountain already changed into Alert status on 20th February 2014. Other people used Twitter and Facebook to inform others on the things victims needed, such as @RYMovement who said “RYM for Humanity: victims around eruption area need more shovels, hoes, tarpaulins and carpentry tools to clean houses.”

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However, this kind initiative mostly comes from grassroots community activity. There was lack of formal organization in managing disaster communications using social media. But the good news is that people organized themselves based on trust, with less government intervention through social media.

After the disaster, the trend shifted. Twitter became an official channel for Indonesian’s president to give his after disaster testimony through his official personal twitter account @SBYudhoyono :

“After speaking with evacuees in three regencies and two municipalities, I can say that I am satisfied with the disaster relief operation. Thank you.” (@SBYudhoyono in Jakarta Post, 2014)


Contributors

Sofiarti Dyah Anggunia works as Database Analyst at West Kalimantan Provincial Government, Indonesia. She holds an M.Sc in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) from The University of Manchester.

Larastri Kumaralalita is currently member of e-government laboratory in University of Indonesia. She gained MSc. of Management and Information Systems at Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), University of Manchester, and Bachelor in Computer Science, majoring in Information Systems, at Computer Science Faculty, University of Indonesia.