PIKOBAR (West Java COVID-19 Information and Coordination Center)
One side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was the difficulty to access reliable, fast and true information. In Indonesia, a lot of misinformation has been circulating both online and offline. The West Java COVID-19 Information and Coordination Center, or PIKOBAR, addresses this issue by providing a government-led, trusted, and accessible pandemic information platform to publish data, factual news, and practical preventive instructions. Jabar Digital Service (JDS) developed a website and mobile application with easy-to-read information that enables citizens to access real-time case data updates, visualizations, and analytics.
PIKOBAR is equipped with additional features including a 24-hour medical hotline and large-scale COVID-19 test registrations by using QR codes. These codes contain information about schedules and queue numbers, so that any possible contagion can be avoided during testing.
As disinformation spread, PIKOBAR developed a feature that helps users to identify hoaxes. To ensure sufficient staffing, PIKOBAR collaborated with the Indonesian Medical Students Association to help answer public health and clinical questions on COVID-19.
The app also serves as a public-private partnership hub for COVID-19 responses. Through PIKOBAR, citizens may contribute to the province’s pandemic response by volunteering, making logistics or cash donations, or participating in discussions. Furthermore, JDS collaborated with IT volunteers and digital startups to develop features like a self diagnosis feature, which ask questions about people’s health and advises whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms using artificial intelligence. Features that assist contact tracing and support self-isolating patients to report their condition are under development.
PIKOBAR also provides COVID-19 case distribution maps so that people are aware whether there are cases in their areas. This massive data publication not only supports transparency but works to improve public trust.
Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact
PIKOBAR specifically intends to solve problems of disinformation around COVID-19. This is one of Indonesia’s largest challenges in fighting the pandemic. The PIKOBAR app and website aim to share accurate and up-to-date information to empower citizens by equipping them with data and advice that they can use in their everyday life. PIKOBAR also encourages citizens of West Java to become involved in the response.
More than 47 million users have already visited either the PIKOBAR app or website, and over one million have downloaded the application, making it the most-downloaded COVID-19 app in Indonesia’s Google Play Store. The PIKOBAR discussion forum has been accessed by over 660,000 people while its hotline has recorded 221,006 complaints and reports with a handling percentage of 99.57%. Around 3,700 people have registered to become volunteers via PIKOBAR, and around 100,000 pieces of protective equipment, medical devices and medicines have so far been collected through PIKOBAR’s donation hub. In August, the Indonesian Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform awarded PIKOBAR as “Best Public Service for Covid-19 Management” innovation in the Provincial Government category.
PIKOBAR is an official program of the West Java Provincial Government. Its lead developer is Jabar Digital Service (JDS), who worked with AWS, Prixa.ai, Cyberarmy, kitabisa.com, Relawan COVID-10, Netlify, AcaraSeru, ACCI, BSSN, Ngesec.id, Cyber Army, Geospatial Creative Institute, SiPandu, Ivosight, and IPSPI.
Other agencies involved are West Java Provincial Social Office, Provincial Health Office, Provincial Office for Industry and Commerce, and Provincial Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The nature of PIKOBAR means it requires regular updates to ensure citizens have access to the latest data and information. Hotlines and discussion fora must also be managed 24 hours a day to ensure that people’s questions are answered in a fast and accurate manner, and to prevent disinformation from spreading. These elements mean that PIKOBAR requires a huge number of staff working on the program, and there is a risk of staff burning out, losing motivation, or even becoming sick themselves due to the heavy workload.