Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the Transformasi Cities Forum, Jakarta

Minister Rudiantara
Mr. Mathew Lefevre, Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation
Mr. Nugroho Weinarto, Executive Director of Transformasi
Jonathan Pincus, President of the Rajawali Foundation
Distinguished officials, Mayors, and friends from around Indonesia
I am very pleased to join you today at the Tranformasi Cities Forum.  Congratulations to Jakarta for being the first Asian host of The New Cities Summit.

With “Seizing the Urban Moment:  Cities at the Heart of Growth and Development” as the theme this year, Jakarta is a fitting host.  By 2050, the Jakarta region is expected to be home to more than 40 million people, or almost 50% more people than live here today.   Like many urban regions, this diverse metropolis faces many challenges as it manages growth.

Throughout Indonesia, city and local governments have recognized the need to meet the demands of today and tomorrow using the latest advances in technology.  Technological innovation enables us to find newer, more efficient, and cost effective solutions to shared challenges like traffic management, climate change, energy efficiency, waste management, flood control, and expanded internet access.

I have been fortunate to work closely with some of Indonesia’s most dynamic local leaders over the past year as they develop strategies to harness technology to improve government service delivery and serve their citizens with more transparency and efficiency.

In January at our @america American cultural center, I was pleased to join three innovative local leaders, including the Mayor of Banda Aceh, who you will hear more from later, to learn how they are promoting good governance through technology in Bandung, Banyuwangi, and Banda Aceh.

In March, in partnership with Price Waterhouse Coopers, we hosted 14 local and provincial leaders from Sumatra to share best practices on creating a road map to achieve their Smart City visions.

Just like in Indonesia, U.S. regional and local governments, and particularly Mayors, are taking the lead to work with civil society and the private sector to invest in smart urban services and infrastructure that will be needed to meet the demands of the future.

A few lessons have emerged that will be of interest to everyone.  First smart city technology is a good investment on many levels.  In cities like Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco, smart city investments like free wi-fi hotspots and open data initiatives made a decade ago—which seemed risky to some at the time—are paying dividends for them, resulting in vibrant economies for their regions.

Likewise Charlotte, North Carolina partnered with utilities and technology providers to create a more sustainable city and drive economic growth by reducing waste, reducing water and energy usage, and improving air quality.  Local businesses involved in the effort have already seen their energy consumption go down by as much as 8%, saving millions of dollars, reducing emissions, and freeing up electricity capacity.

A second important lesson from successful cities is the importance of cities partnering with the private sector.  For example, the city of Boston partnered with Waze, a global community-based traffic and navigation app, to better understand where traffic jams occur and how long it takes drivers to get from place to place.  In Charlotte, the city is working closely with Cisco, who you will hear from later today, to realize its Smart, sustainable city goals.

American technology companies like Cisco, Twitter, Microsoft, Honeywell, Intel, and others are leading the way, and stand ready to work with Indonesia to help create and utilize smart technology to improve city services and management.

At the national level, our Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, is supporting local efforts to utilize technology to improve services, promote economic growth, and enhance the quality of urban life.

Many of you may have heard of the NIST Global City Teams Challenge that just concluded on June 1.  My friend the Mayor of Bandung Ridwan Kamil would likely be here today, were he not in the United States, in part to attend the NIST event.

The Global City Teams Challenge helps communities around the world work together to develop innovative, smart solutions to address issues ranging from air quality to traffic management to emergency services coordination.

This year, 40 teams participated in the challenge, focusing on creative solutions to address health, energy, transportation, climate change, and consumer behavior issues.

At the heart of this event is the critical partnership between public and private sector in developing these creative solutions, and the information sharing between cities about what works, and what doesn’t.  Put simply, the Global City Teams Challenge helps communities benefit from the experience of others to improve efficiency and lower costs.

A quick glance at NIST’s website shows 20 events around the world between May and November focused on Smart, sustainable cities, including, of course, the New Cities Summit right here in Jakarta.

With these opportunities for collaboration and information sharing, we can all learn from each other how best to use innovative technologies to improve the performance of cities around the world.

With more than 6.5 billion people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, the future of our cities, and our future, depends on it.  I am pleased that the Smart Cities movement is gathering momentum in Indonesia thanks in part to the efforts of many in this room.  We at the US Embassy and our U.S. companies look forward to working with you to help you realize your Smart City objectives.

Thank you.  I look forward to hearing of the creative solutions you will discuss today!

As prepared.