Solo Kota Kita combines a decentralized survey approach with simple technology to illustrate the assets and issues in each of Solo’s neighborhoods. The process has four steps – 1) data collection, 2) mapping, 3) analysis, and 4) distribution.
First, we send community facilitators to collect data from the Ketua RT in Solo’s neighborhoods. Ketua RT are neighborhood managers of RTs, which are the smallest administrative unit in Solo. The Ketua RT have data about education, poverty, and other issues, which the facilitators collect using a questionnaire.
When Solo Kota Kita first created the database of social and economic indicators featured on this website, the facilitators gathered data using a paper questionnaire. Solo Kota Kita’s 12 community facilitators worked independently and spent a lot of time in the neighborhoods. There are over 2,700 RTs in Solo, which meant that the facilitators interacted with at least 2,700 residents during the survey.
This approach allows the team to cover a lot of area and gain on-the-ground knowledge of what’s happening in the neighborhoods.
For the 2012 update of the database, Solo Kota Kita developed a new SMS tool to streamline data collection. With this new tool, a neighborhood manager receives the questionnaire as text messages sent to his or her mobile phone. Data about the RTs is sent back through text messages and then compiled into an online information dashboard.
This new SMS tool greatly reduces the time it takes to survey the Ketua RT and to maintain the database. Even so, the team took a variety of approaches to conduct the survey. In some cases, groups of Ketua RTs would meet at the neighborhood center and enter the information on their mobile phones together. Other Ketua RTs don’t own a mobile phone, so a paper survey would be needed.
Once the survey is completed, we input the data into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a computer technology that takes tabular data and connects it to maps of the city. This means we can map where poverty is high in Solo, for example, and where it is low.
The team then works together to analyze how each neighborhood is developing. We look at the data and maps to understand how each neighborhood compares to the rest of the city and how each indicator is distributed within the neighborhood.
Everyone on the team brings a different perspective – since the community facilitators spend so much time in the field, they are aware of what residents perceive are assets and issues. We record the ideas of the analysis in a mini atlas.
Lastly, we distribute the mini atlas to residents so they can use it in participatory budgeting. The mini atlases are printed and distributed to neighborhood leaders. They are also posted in newspaper kiosks at community centers. Lastly, anyone can download a mini atlas from solokotakita.org.