COVID-19 pandemic has forced activities around the world in halt. The social or physical distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, work-study from home have become new habits in order to decrease the COVID-19 spread. Local governments take an active role in mitigating the transmission of this virus at the local level and ensure that the development wheel is still running on track. Digital technology has provided some solutions to city governments in facing the pandemic. LOCALISE SDGs, a joint programme of UCLG ASPAC and Association of Indonesia Municipalities (APEKSI) and funded by the EU, recorded how cities benefit from technology utilisation with its unique characteristics: fast, easy-to-use, and zero needs of physical contact.  Two examples from the following Indonesian cities are indicators of the digital transformation that takes place and thrives within the pandemic situation.Utilisation of digital technology for local development has been practiced by the city of Malang (East Java). The city has developed an application called SiBansos (Sistem Bantuan Sosial, social support system) to ensure distribution hits the right target. Local people can access SiBansos and register on The system helps the local government to determine which community members receive the social assistance through various criteria set earlier. This initiative is highly welcomed as the number of local people registered was 76,691 (mid-May 2020). The social assistance is meant to cover people’s daily necessities. According to the local government of Malang, recipients are mostly workers with daily basis wage.

Most of the commerce activities in Jambi City are conducted in crowded areas, such as traditional market. Amidst the pandemic, the local digital initiative called Sangkek, was activated. Sangkek is a mobile-based application developed by local millennials since early 2020. Sangkek supported the commerce activity in local traditional market. Local people who need fresh food and vegetables can just access Sangkek, instead of crowding the traditional market. Sangkek has also been endorsed by Mayor of Jambi. This local initiative has positively supported the city and local people (both sellers and buyers) during the social or physical distancing. Within five months since its launch, the application has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.

At the national level, the utilisation of technology was used by the Government of Indonesia not only to spread public awareness and update the latest data on COVID-19 cases, but also to conduct its annual national meeting for development planning (musrenbang) last month. The virtual meeting was led by the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, and marked as the first national meeting that uses digital technology called e-musrenbang (electronic musrenbang). The main topic was accelerating economic recovery and social reformation. The recognition for the best local development was awarded as well in the virtual meeting, with Central Java Province on the first place (for province level development) and Padang City as the runner up for the city level development.

To ensure sustainable development in cities, particularly in achieving the Agenda 2030, innovation that also supports the existing means of implementation is needed. The digital technology used, both at national and local level, contributes to the achievement of SDGs. SiBansos helps local government of Malang (East Java) to contribute to Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) and Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institution). The Sangkek from Jambi City also contributes to the same goals and Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).


  5. Instagram account:


SiBansos of Malang City:
Sangkek of Jambi City: Sangke’s FB Account