Solo Kota Kita has been developing tools for neighborhood advocacy and citizen planning in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, Indonesia since 2009.
The goal of Solo Kota Kita is to increase awareness of urban issues so residents can strengthen their voice in participatory budgeting – known locally as musrenbang.
This is accomplished through a community-based approach of collecting and sharing data about the urban environment with residents and local government in Solo. The main tool of the project is the “mini atlas,” a poster which shows how neighborhoods work and illustrates patterns of social and economic problems and opportunities.
The initiative began in March 2009 as a pilot project. A small group of dedicated architecture students from Universitas Sebelas Maret surveyed a handful of Solo neighborhoods. This early effort gained the support of then Mayor Joko Widodo – now Governor of Jakarta – to survey and map all 51 neighborhoods in Solo.
Since then, the Solo Kota Kita team of community facilitators has collected data for every neighborhood in Solo twice. The first survey was completed in 2010 and the information was compiled into a database as well as 51 mini atlases. The survey was conducted again in 2012 to update the database, this time using a new SMS tool that allows residents to send data to the team with mobile phones.
The mini atlases were introduced into the musrenbang process in 2010 with the support of BAPPEDA, the local government planning and budgeting department. The mini atlases have allowed citizens who participate in musrenbang to access information about how their neighborhoods are developing. Making decisions based on information can lead to a stronger connection between what residents want and need and how local government invests in neighborhoods.
Our team has conducted five workshops with local government and trained 70 of the facilitators who work with residents during the musrenbang. In addition, over 33,000 people have accessed the data on the website since it was launched in 2010. While about 90 percent of these users have come from Indonesia, the site has been visited by residents of 122 other countries. The team has also worked with local governments and NGOs to apply the survey methodology in several other Indonesian cities, including Banjarmasin, Makassar, Padang, and Pekalongan.
The contributors to this project bring many perspectives, but share a common concern for the development of neighborhoods and the growth of cities. Our design intent is to improve neighborhood-level development, which is why we focus on guiding the process that creates the physical space of neighborhoods – the participatory budgeting process. So by providing tools for citizens to be more effective in musrenbang, we seek to improve the built environment in Solo.