Indice del artículo
Geospatial Information Technology in Indonesia and its Legal Framework
2. Realidade brasileira e comunicação de massa
Geospatial Technology in Society
Indonesian Geospatial Information Law
Providing Geospatial Information
Organizing Geospatial Information
Todas las páginas

image Throughout the history of humankind, cultural, economic, political, and technical forces have led to social changes. Some of these changes were drastic, but some others were more gradual. The latest innovation that has changed society drastically and is sure to evolve rapidly in the future is geospatial information technology. Even though Indonesia is a developing country, the development of its technology is not far behind other countries – including in geospatial technology.

Deborah N. Simorangkir
Universitas Pelita Harapan
Davidson Samoir,

Revista 2- Año 1, (Abr-2011-Jun-2011)

ISSN 2173-6588


Throughout the history of humankind, cultural, economic, political, and technical forces have led to social changes. Some of these changes were drastic, but some others were more gradual. The latest innovation that has changed society drastically and is sure to evolve rapidly in the future is geospatial information technology. Even though Indonesia is a developing country, the development of its technology is not far behind other countries – including in geospatial technology. Because such technology is no longer restricted to the military but is now available to a wider public, laws must be passed to ensure that the end users will get credible, accurate and accountable information and that in the end, geospatial products actually serve for the betterment of society.

Key words: Geospatial Information technology, Indonesia


A lo largo de la historia de la humanidad las fuerzas sociales, económicas, políticas y técnicas han llevado al cambio social. Algunos de estos cambios fueron drásticos, otros más graduales. La última innovación que ha cambiado drásticamente la sociedad pronto se convertirá en la futura tecnología de la información geoespacial. A pesar de que Indonesia es un país en vías de desarrollo, el desarrollo de su tecnología no está lejos de otros paises, incluida la tecnología geoespacial. Debido al hecho de que este tipo de tecnología ya no está restringuida a lo militar, sino disponible para el público más general, se deben acuñar leyes que aseguren que el usuario final obtendrá información correcta y responsable y para que los productos, de hecho, sirvan a su propósito – mejorar la sociedad.

Palabras clave: Tecnología de la información geoespacial, Indonesia


Throughout the history of humankind, cultural, economic, political, and technical forces have led to social changes. Some of these changes were drastic, but some others were more gradual. Among these change agents, communication technology innovations have thus resulted in social changes since the 19th century (Dizard, 2000). The invention of the telegraph enabled people to communicate across great distances from different parts of the world. Ever since, communication technologies have allowed people to share their experiences and cultures everywhere. One may say that today’s existing national borders are mainly political boundaries maintained by nation-states (Pelton, 2003), but society is no longer confined by these artificial boundaries thanks to communication technologies.

Two characteristics that communication technologies have in common are: the ability to cross borders, and the decentralization of control of their content and use (Ogan, 2007). These characteristics have enabled video/DVD technology, satellite-delivered broadcast technology, and computer-mediated communication (CMC) to change—or to offer the hope of change to—different  levels of the society (Ogan, 2001).

Nevertheless, the social influence of communication technology also trigger major concerns. For instance, there is the risk of ‘Big-Brother totalitarianism’ through Western satellites or the Internet (Lin, 2007). Another concern is government control over the information and the media products imported across national borders, fearing that such imports might contain information and points of view that are not aligned with the native cultural values and traditions. Indeed, developing countries have for decades expressed their fear that the United States would be spreading its political points of view from space if those countries could not control access to the skies over their territories (Ogan, 2007). And now, with the growth of geospatial information technology, concerns such as accuracy, usage, and copyright become hot legal issues in many countries, including Indonesia.  

Development of Communication Technology in Indonesia

Development of Communication Technology in Indonesia
When General Soeharto took office as the second President in 1966, a modest but sensible economic development plan was adopted. Education was made available to a greater number of people, helping to increase literacy levels. The growth in infrastructure throughout the vast archipelago stimulated social mobility and created a huge domestic market. During his thirty-two years at the helm, Soeharto brought Indonesia increased stability in the political, economic, social, and security areas. Despite some progress, Indonesia is witness to corruption and mismanagement in implementing economic plans. Collusion, corruption, and cronysimare common in almost all walks of life. Nevertheless, throughout Soeharto’s New Order era significantly upgraded the nation’s physical infrastructure. From 1975 to 1990, the installed capacity of the state electricity company, the number of telephone lines, and the length of paved roads increased significantly. A successful satellite system, known as Palapa, was established to provide a communication link between Jakarta and all provinces of Indonesia (Ananto, 2004). Indonesia is one of few countries during 70's which owned their own communication satellite.

Today, as many other developing countries, Indonesia is not considered as world's leading parties in science and technology developments. However, throughout its history, there have been notable achievements and contributions made by Indonesian for science and technology. Currently, the republic's Ministry of Research and Technology is the official body in charge of science and technology development in the nation. In 2010, the Indonesian government has allocated Rp 1.9 trillion (approximately US$205 million) or less than 1 percent of the total state expenditure for research and development (Maulia, 2011).

Since 1976, a series of Palapa satellites named have been built and launched in the United States for Indonesia's state-owned telecommunication company, Indosat. In Internet technology, an Indonesian information technology scientist, Onno W. Purbo has developed RTRW-net, a community-based internet infrastructure which provide affordable Internet access possible for people in rural areas (Sabarini, 2010).

Geospatial Technology in Society

In the last few decades, a growing range of geotechnology tools, geospatial data and geospatial services have become available to a wider audience. Not only has it become much easier to communicate effectively across land, sea, air and space, but the world has been able to monitor spatial behavior, as a result of the vast ability to capture large quantities of information (MacEachren, Robinson, Hopper, Gardner, Murray, Gahegan, & Hetzler, 2005).

Today, armies, governments, non-governmental organizations and multinational enterprises, and scientists have devised new methods of capturing and analyzing data for their needs. And even individual consumers have enjoyed the availability of data provision and accessibility, especially through the internet (MacEachren et al, 2005).

However, a closer look at the usage of geotechnology will show that the processes of adoption and adaptation are much more complex and less predictable than would at first appear. One example is satellite navigation technology, which was initially developed for military purposes (1950s/60s), and was later developed for civilian use (in route navigation systems) (1980s). Yet, its ultimate success as a popular consumer good depended on several factors outside these systems, for instance, companies and governments willing to invest in road digitization with little immediate benefits in sight (Scharl & Tochtermann, 2007). This relationship between governments, businesses, scientists/engineers and users makes the development of geospatial information technology a dynamic process.

Indonesian Geospatial Information Law

Indonesia’s Bill on Geospatial Information (“Law”) was passed by the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat / DPR) on 5 April 2011, a little over a year after being submitted to the DPR (16/2/2010). Although the Law has now been passed, it can take up to a further 2 years before it is fully implemented (Article 70). In accordance with Law No. 10 of 2004 on the Formation of Laws and Regulations, the date of enactment will be within 30 days of the Law’s passage, or when signed by the President, whichever is the earliest. At that time the Law will be assigned a number. It should be noted that geospatial information in Indonesia has never been subject to a regulatory framework at the level of a law. Historically, basic geospatial information and thematic geospatial information are based on information collected during the Dutch colonial era, which has over time been updated by different institutions, both government and private, for their own purposes (, 2011).

It is evident that geospatial information in Indonesia is often inaccurate, with multiple cases of the government issuing mining concessions as well as oil and gas drilling permits relying on inaccurate geospatial information. Notably, Freeport was granted a mining concession for copper, but was later alleged to be mining more of gold than copper, a mineral that is significantly higher in value.

A similar case is Exxon Mobil and the Cepu Blok, where it was reported that Exxon utilized high-tech geospatial satellite information to locate a large quantity of oil reserves in the Cepu Blok, while Indonesia relied on a different set of geospatial information. Resulting in bargaining over different quantity of oil reserves in the production sharing agreement (, 2011).

The Law itself provides more than a legal framework in acquiring accurate geospatial data for decision and policy making, it also stipulates the establishment of a government institution that will ensure the administration of national geospatial information, and the process of how geospatial information is acquired and distributed.

Providing Geospatial Information

Pursuant to Article 55, private persons or groups of people wishing to provide Geospatial Information, are required to poses the required competency to provide geospatial information, in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. If private persons or a group of people are embodied in a legal entity, the legal entity must comply with both the Administrative and the Technical requirements (Article 56 (1)). As set out in Article 56 (2), the administrative requirements are:
a.    Deed of establishment, and
b.    Business license.

Technical requirements, pursuant to Article 56 (2), are:
a.    Certificate that meets the classification and qualification as a geospatial information provider, and
b.    Employs certified professionals in the field of geospatial information.

Since the Law is a regulatory framework for Geospatial Information, further implementing regulations on administrative and technical requirements will be issued at a later date (, 2011).

Organizing Geospatial Information

In order to ensure that a single reference set of geospatial information is established so as to ensure that end users will acquire accurate, credible, and accountable for information, organizing of geospatial information.

Since geospatial databases are gathered from variety of sources, such as previously available Basic Geospatial Information or data that derives from images taken from airplanes, satellites, or surveyors directly in the field. Article 27 (2) sets a standard for acquiring information. Which includes complying with the standards of the geospatial reference system, types, criteria, and data formats that will be later determined by the Head of the soon to be established Geospatial Information Agency (, 2011).

Article 28 sets out permission that must be obtained for collecting data, if the area where the data is being collected is located in a prohibited area, or if the act of collection of the data/information can have a hazardous effect on the collector (stipulated further in Article 29), or if collected by foreign owned vehicles (airplane and vessels, but not satellites) (, 2011).

Gathering geospatial information requires substantial investment, manpower, and the use of advanced technology to ensure its availability and accuracy. Although Basic Geospatial Information is categorized as open information, Article 48 stipulates that a fee can be charged to the user.

Supervision of the providers and users of geospatial information will be under the authority of the soon to be established Geospatial Information Agency (Article 69 (2)). During the transition period (3 years) supervision will be the responsibility of the National Agency for Surveys and Mapping (Badan Koordinasi Survei dan Pemetaan Nasional / Bakosurtanal). Supervision of geospatial information providers and users is stipulated in Article 57, whereby a further Government Regulation will address such supervision.



The law provides administrative (Chapter 9) and criminal (Chapter 10) sanctions. Of most concern to information providers are the provisions contained in Article 61 in conjunction with Article 67. Where inaccuracies in supplied geospatial information result in damages to the users, the provider will be subject to imprisonment of up to 3 years, or a fine of up to IDR 750 million. Supporting this, a provider, pursuant to Article 8 (1) of Law No.8 of 1999 on Consumer Protection is prohibited, as a producer, from producing products and/or services that do not comply with the standards that are required by the prevailing laws and regulations. Article 61 would appear to apply to such cases as where a driver relies on their in-car navigation system leading to an accident, such as driving into a body of water, or a wall. As well as cellular users who subscribe to geospatial information for location of medical facilities for emergency purposes, but fail to locate a hospital or clinic due to the inaccuracy of the provided geospatial information (, 2011).

The provisions contained in Article 61 are a double edged sword, where they serve to ensure that accurate and high quality information is provided to users, but at the same time add to the cost of providing geospatial information.



A widely known use of geospatial information by a wide range of people is “Google Maps” and Wikimapia, both of which are classified as open information and are free to be accessed. A wider range of geospatial information, such as more detailed topographic maps or natural resource surveys, is available at a cost and is commonly classified as restricted information.

The accuracy of such freely available sources as Google Maps and Wikimapia is far from reliable, since it is often acquired from satellite imagery that does not contain geometric information and requires geo correction. Nonetheless, if a party were to rely on this type of geospatial information and incur damages, regardless of whether the information was acquired without cost, the provider would be criminally liable. Since it will take up to 2 years for the Law to be fully implemented, it is expected that during this time the Geospatial Information Agency will be established, and a number of implementing regulations will be issued to ensure the execution of the Law’s provisions.

Two concerns come to mind regarding geospatial information technology – people and data. Because technology is market driven, the products can be obtained by anyone willing to pay the price. Geospatial technology now allows for (relatively) easy dissemination of location information to regional levels, which may greatly impact emergency

Legislatures make every attempt to write laws that withstand the test of time and are not subject to frequent updates due to technology or methodology. However, that does not mean the laws never need to be changed, nor does it mean interpretations of the laws must remain fixed and rigid. The most important thing is whether the statute serves to ensure that the end users will get credible, accurate and accountable information, and that in the end, geospatial products actually serve for the betterment of society.



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