West Java Bridges Urban and Rural Digital Gap with Apps Built on AWS
By building cloud-native apps on AWS, West Java Provincial Government has reduced its development time from 2–3 months to 16 days and benefits from a pay-as-you-go cloud model. West Java is the most populous province in Indonesia, and its government is committed to improving public services through technology. The government is using Amazon EKS to speed up deployment of containers, Amazon CloudFront to deliver content, and Amazon SQS to avoid app bottlenecks.
We are actively looking to outsource some of our development work to AWS and its partners to move at an even faster pace when introducing new digital public services.”
Head of Communications and Informatics Agency, West Java Provincial Government
Improving Lives in Indonesia’s Most Populous Region
Digital disruption is affecting the public sector as much as private companies. To overcome this challenge, governments have improved service models and offered more two-way communication between citizens and officials. In the Asia-Pacific region, an Indonesian province has done exemplary work to apply technology for the public good. In 2020, Jabar Digital Service (JDS), the West Java Provincial Government’s digital and innovation division, received a special accolade for tech-enabled resiliency from the International Data Corporation.
With 5,312 dispersed villages, West Java is the most densely populated province in Indonesia. However, there is a large digital gap between urban and rural areas. According to a digital competitiveness report, Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, ranked 79.7 out of 100, while West Java’s capital, Bandung, ranked a distant second at 55.0, showing the developmental inequality between cities and regions. JDS aims to address this concern. It has three goals: to make data-driven decisions; to optimize the use of IT to improve the lives of citizens; and to become a dynamic regional government through digital transformation of public services.
Scaling New Applications in the Cloud
The West Java Provincial Government runs most workloads in its on-premises data center, which is ISO27001-certified. However, capacity restraints prevented it from beginning new projects in the data center without having to add a capital investment in new hardware.
Seeking a more scalable solution, it turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The AWS pay-as-you-go model is more aligned with a government program promoting budgetary prudence. This makes it simpler to get new projects approved and enables the government to modify budgets during the course of project execution.
Facilitating Communication with Villagers
In line with JDS’s vision, the West Java Provincial Government is gradually modernizing with the introduction of new cloud-based applications. In 2018, JDS developed a public-service app on iOS and Android called Sapawarga, which means “to greet people.” The app is used by all elected heads of neighborhood units, the foundational community structure in the province. These community leaders use the Sapawarga app to channel the needs and wants of villagers directly to the provincial government.
Before the development of this app, villagers used to drive up to 5 hours to the capital city to personally report issues. “Now we can directly broadcast important information to the general public, and we can get information about situations on the ground, particularly during natural disasters, in near-real time,” says Setiaji, head of Communications and Informatics Agency, West Java Provincial Government. Sapawarga includes interactive features such as surveys to provide feedback to the government programs. This feedback mechanism helps West Java officials make customer-centric and data-driven decisions when formulating public policy
Empowering Engineers with Modern Tools
The Sapawarga app was developed using containers, with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (Amazon EKS) running and building infrastructure across projects using templates. With Amazon EKS, engineers have the flexibility to deploy updates in the app on a rolling basis. JDS is using Amazon CloudFront as a secure content-delivery network and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) to send email notifications to users.
Thanks to these tools and ongoing training provided by AWS, JDS is now independently running product development in the AWS Cloud with a team of 26. Setiaji says, “We don’t have a big infrastructure team for the scale of projects we manage. AWS helps us optimize resource management and empowers our employees with the skills needed to efficiently operate infrastructure in the cloud.” The team is also able to control costs by automatically cutting back infrastructure resources at night when the Sapawarga app has low user traffic.
Developed COVID-19 Response App in 16 Days
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, JDS developed a response app on AWS called Pikobar in March 2020 for use by the general public. The app had 1.14 million downloads as of December 2020 and continues to be a frontline tool in controlling the outbreak of the virus. With such a high volume of user traffic, JDS implemented Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to prevent bottlenecks in the app’s notification and processing engine. It is also using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) for specific, linear workloads such as registration of completed COVID-19 tests. It took just 16 days to develop Pikobar, a process that would have taken 2 or 3 months using an on-premises infrastructure.
“The public response to our Pikobar app has been extremely positive because people can use a range of features in just one app,” Setiaji says. Pikobar acts as a dashboard with 25 different features, or sub-apps, which users rely on for navigating daily activities during the pandemic. Features include contact tracing, self-health checks, a list of locations offering rapid testing, infection-rate maps by area, and generation of daily isolation reports among other activities.
AWS data and analytics tools help the government assess the effectiveness of its large-scale social restriction policy, intended to prevent mass gatherings during the pandemic. JDS streams road traffic data from the Waze GPS navigation app using Amazon Kinesis. It stores the data in a data lake on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and uses Amazon Athena for querying and analyzing traffic data to detect potential policy violations.
Leveraging the Amazon Partner Network to Increase Innovation
These apps are just the beginning of West Java’s digital transformation journey on the AWS Cloud. JDS engineers have more ideas to contribute to the province’s smart-city objectives and will continue to build new AWS Cloud–native applications to innovate at speed.
And the engineers won’t have to do it alone. JDS values the breadth of the Amazon Partner Network (APN) and the software-as-a-service options it can leverage as an AWS customer. “We are actively looking to outsource some of our development and project work to AWS and its partners to move at an even faster pace when introducing new digital public services. This is very useful for public-sector institutions, where budget and staffing are limited,” Setiaji says.
West Java government teams up with AWS for citizen engagement
About West Java Provincial Government
West Java is Indonesia’s most populous province, with 5,312 villages. The provincial government is pursuing digital transformation to optimize public services, improve the lives of its citizens, and make data-driven decisions.
Benefits of AWS
- Controls spending with pay-as-you-go model and auto-scaling
- Developed COVID-19 app in 16 days instead of 3 months
- Enables near-real-time communication with villagers
- Uses analytics to assess effectiveness of social-distancing policy
- Upskills engineers to independently build and run cloud-native apps
AWS Services Used
Amazon EKS gives you the flexibility to start, run, and scale Kubernetes applications in the AWS cloud or on-premises.
Amazon ECS is a fully managed
container orchestration service. Customers such as Duolingo, Samsung,
GE, and Cookpad use ECS to run their most sensitive and mission critical
applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.
Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.
Amazon SES is a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service that enables developers to send mail from within any application.
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