Key Questions and Motivations for Studying Mobility Apps’ Impacts in Jakarta This research aims to explore impacts caused by the introduction of mobility apps in on citizens in Jakarta’s informal urban communities, in livelihood, social and governance aspects, in 2015-2017. The apps represent an informational and technological innovation with a global nature. The focus of my inquiry is to describe the local uptake, adaptation, reactions and other behavior in response to this global innovation. 5 “Informal communities” are informal associations and groupings of informal transport drivers, as well as communities of the poor in Jakarta, who typically live in informal settlements or engage in other informal trades. The issue of Uber-like mobility innovation’s potentially differential influences on various citizens living in different urban sectors and of diverse social backgrounds is an important one. Urban transport, particularly its informal variants like motorcycle taxis and shared minibuses, is a major employment sector for low-skilled workers in developing cities the world over (Khayesi, Nafukho, and Kemuma 2015). Informal transport also provides vital mobility options – often the only way to get around – for poor residents, playing a key role in their access to jobs, resources, and services (Cervero 2000; ESCAP and UN-HABITAT 2015; Taylor 2015). Finally, impacts can be positive or negative, direct or indirect, short or long-term, and are likely to be multifaceted. In this context, key questions motivating my inquiry into mobility apps and citizens in Greater Jakarta are the following three: 1. Is the innovation influencing citizens’ livelihood, for workers in informal transport sector, and among various subgroups in this sector? And if so, in what ways? 2. Is the innovation influencing citizens’ social behavior, for those working in informal transport sector, as well as other urban informal communities? And if so, how? 3. Is the innovation influencing local capacity for good governance, related to public service provision? If so, what roles do data and information play, and what are the views from relevant institutions, including the government and civil society?
5 My focus in this research is not on the mechanics of the original technology or its business model,
though they are interesting subjects in their own right, particularly when it comes to country-bycountry or even city-by-city local evolution of innovation strategies on the part of these app platforms.
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