For the 2017 Jakarta International Youth Program, the Senate Chancellery held a citywide competition for students from Berlin who wanted to travel to the Southeast Asian metropolis Jakarta, Berlin’s partner city. Jenny Song Schmidt, a student at Berlin’s University of the Arts, and Kevin Nandzik, from Humboldt University, won the “Get to know your partner city” competition. And the prize? Six days in Southeast Asia’s largest city. An exciting and varied program, which also included cultural events, awaited Jenny Song Schmidt, Kevin Nandzik, and students from other partner cities in Jakarta.
One of the trip’s highlights was a visit to the Jakarta Smart City Lounge, which is a Jakarta city government initiative to develop and refine innovative solutions for widely varying areas of the administration, such waste disposal, flood prevention, and intelligent real-time traffic management.
The two students also enjoyed their visit to the Integrated One-Stop Service Department (IOSSD), which is an office set up by Jakarta’s metropolitan government to reduce bureaucracy. This office is a dream come true for many of Jakarta’s residents: it is now possible to have certain licenses and documents issued by the city in just a few hours. What’s more, a convenient motorcycle delivery service can bring the documents to the residents who requested them. In view of Jakarta’s daily traffic jams, this is a very welcome option.
Another project the students discovered was the Jakarta Creative Hub, a kind of incubator for startups and creative professionals. It has rooms for workshops and innovative digital equipment, including 3D printers.
While visiting a picturesque cluster of islands near Jakarta, the “Thousand Islands,” the young people found a stunning natural environment and explored the underwater world while snorkeling. One question was obvious: how should the expansionary boom in tourism on the islands just outside Jakarta be dealt with? The students were able to discuss this issue, too, with the regent of the “Thousand Islands,” Putra Gayo Irmansyah. He told the group about the most important ecological and economical aspects and challenges entailed by the tourist throngs coming from Jakarta and the surrounding areas. The government wants to ensure that the windfall profits being made from the guests arriving from the sprawling megametropolis also benefit the “little people” living on the islands.
The students have now returned to their everyday lives at their universities, bringing with them a broad array of impressions and experiences of a vibrant metropolis facing enormous challenges. The conference was definitely an excellent way to promote exchange between the partner cities. It also gave the many students taking part in this program the chance to draft approaches to more innovative city government, since that, too, was a focus of their visit.