Strengthening the Role of Higher Education in GeoInformatics Utilization: A Transdisciplinary Approach (Bogor Agricultural University’s Case)

Awang Maharijaya, Bogor Agricultural University/ Department of Agronomyand Horticulture/Assistant to Vice Rector for Academic Affair Rectorate Building 2nd floor, Kampus IPB Darmaga Bogor 16680 

Asep Saefuddin, Bogor Agricultural University. Department of Statistics/Vice Rector for Planning, Development, and Collaboration, Rectorate Building 2nd floor, Kampus IPB Darmaga, Bogor 16680 INDONESIA,


The utilization of geoinformatics for spatial and temporal hotspot detection and prioritization is necessity in modern society. Many complex problems can be approached “geoinformatically” incorporating various angles holistically supported by powerful information technology and statistical methods. Hence, higher education has an obligation to lay strong scientific foundation for the students. By understanding the essence of geoinformatics and its technologies, researchers may obtain accurate information and provide appropriate recommendations.


Due to the inevitability of geoinformatics approach and to obtain the optimum level of understanding it, IPB reshaped its system to produce high quality graduates rich with experiences in multidisciplinary researches and community services. Cluster analysis (Bartholomew, 2002) was applied to obtain appropriate grouping of academic departments based on department mandates, science/technology (natural sciences, social sciences, information technology, and mathematics) and market needs. Hence the academic department at IPB can be clustered into four groups: socioeconomic/management, natural resources, engineering/ technology and basic and natural sciences.



IPB views education is holistic system started from incoming students (input), learning process, output (graduates) and its impact to society (outcome). In term of learning process, IPB provides integration among education, research, and community service. Hence the students have to understand the societal complex problems and the role of science and technology in solving the problems. To obtain deep understanding of integrative approach supported by strong quantitative and qualitative methods, the education processes at IPB are as follows:

a. Common first year program. The students have to take required courses in basic/intermediate mathematics, basic sociology, basic natural sciences (physics, chemistry, and biology), multicultural extra curricula, holistic agriculture, entrepreneurship, English, and religion.

b. At the following years, they have to take a major option provided by academic departments and one minor. Besidestheir major/minor, all students are required to take basic/intermediate statistical methods, research methodology, and computer science (such as geographic information system) to strengthen their analytical and research skills. For research and community service, IPB provides an integrated Tridharma concept; i.e. three main functions: education, research, and community service. Hence, students are exposed to community-based problems to be discussed in class. Based on this strong connection among education, research, and community service, IPB has contributed many concepts for national development. For example, the food (rice) selfsufficiency program (1980s), interlink-regional development (1980-1990), community nutrition (1990s), local village selfreliance (2005), Aceh recovery program (2005), remote area development program (2006), and many others. Hence, students have real experiences in doing research in relation to the community services. 

At input level, since 2003, IPB had collaborated with local government providing local government fellowship. Students with this fellowship have to return to their local area after they get the degree. It is expected that in the near future they can create a suitable concept on regional development with respect to societal needs, environmental aspects, and appropriate technologies. Besides the local government scholarship, IPB invites 10% top students from recognized SMA (senior high school) in Indonesia. Hence, IPB’s students are from all provinces who usually come from rural areas. The input-process-output/outcome system is continuously reviewed by analyzing the internal aspect as well as external factors. Hence, IPB always catch up the rapid change of globalization, including basic understanding and real application of geoinformatics. To optimize the program, both national and international collaboration are required.


This section provides some examples on integrated research conducted by students and faculty members. These examples show the importance of holistic approach on real problem that has to be understood by students. The examples are still in early stage of geoinformatics research which will develop well as soon as the concept is well-comprehended. 

a.   Research on GMO Opinion

The research was conducted by advanced students and fresh graduates of IPB (Saefuddin, et. al. 2006). The basic idea was to obtain student opinion on GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). The respondents were IPB students of all departments with random sample of 505 students. It was 74.8% of them understand the concept of GMO. Their understanding was mainly obtained from formal courses (27.8%) and TV program (28.6%), while the rest was from magazine/newspaper, internet, radio, and informal discussion with their colleagues and professors. They were still in doubt on the effect of GMO on human health, few of them think that GMO has negative side effect. However, they tried to avoid eating GMO-food. Hence, they suggested putting GMO label on such product. The research needs to be extended to the national level by including the geoinformatics approach to analyze the GMO issue.  

b. Avian Influenza (AI)

AI is considered zoonosis which may attack both poultry (other animal) and human. The spread of AI in poultry case is considered very fast. In August 2003, AI case was found at two districts in Banten and Central Java provinces, which in 2005 then spread out to 161 districts in 26 provinces; i.e. increased 80 times in only two years. About 9.5 million birds died because of AI. At human case, since 2003, AI has been attacking 26 persons, 19 of them died. . Some strategies are needed for preventive action, poultry industry zoning, biosecurity approach, and institutional networking among central and local government, NGOs, industries and universities. The institutional approach is not yet optimized, so the approach is still partial and discontinuous (FKH IPB, 2006). We need geoinformatics approach to analyze this severe problem of AI 

c. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DBD)

DBD is seasonal disease due to conducive environment. It usually appears around September to February (rainy season) supported by bad sanitary and dysfunctional drainage system around the community. Compared to other provinces, Jakartaalways has worse case of DBD, for example in December 2005 to January 2006, there were 3,500 persons infected with it while around 50 to 500 persons in other provinces (Kompas, 2006). Geoinformatics can approach this problem holistically including community participation, social aspect, sanitation, and drainage system, air/water pollution, and soon; which needs affirmative action from the government, NGO, and universities. This conducive networking is very weak in Indonesia, beside the fact that scientific information is very limited. Unfortunately, accurate geographic information on DBD is not yet analyzed well. 

d. STORMA (Stability of Rainforest Margin)

Storma is a collaborative research activity on the complex problem of community around the rainforest which are usually poor. The project is aimed at analyzing the process of destabilization factors that contributes to the stability of forest margin both in their temporal and spatial dimensions. At this stage, the research was focused on overall understanding related to socio-economic, demographic, institutional aspect, and biological diversity in the research area. Some indications showed that rate of forest conversion is stimulated by economic insecurity, lack of understanding on environmental degradation effect to human, no alternative livelihood, and the misused of technology. Again, integrated geoinformatics is very important in this research. 

e. Poverty and Unemployment Reduction

Poverty is a result of many factors such as income, health, education, access to goods and services, geographic, gender and environment condition. In the year of 2004, there are 36,1 million poor people in Indonesia. Using MDGs category, based on food intake, more than 60% of Indonesia people cosumes below 2100 calories (minimum food intake).  This poverty is worsen by increasing number of unemployment. The overall number of unemployment rate in Indonesia is 12%, 60% of which are young people and whom account of 42 million people. Yudhoyono (2004) proposed his theses on poverty and unemployment reduction. He then suggested a triple track strategy for development (Yudhoyono, 2006), i.e : economic growth by investation and export, 2. unemployment reduction by job creation, 3. revitalisation of agriculture for poverty reduction. To implement this strategy, he mentioned the need of public-private partnership for Pro-poor. Pro-grant, and Pro-jobs development. Many poverty alleviation programs had been implemented by government of Indonesia. The current program launched by Local Governement of West Java is Competition Funding Program on Acceleration of Human Development Index (HDI)). It is a fiscal program which provides incentives for the District Government who shows the best performance in accelerating improvement of HDI. The main goals of PPK IPM is to achieve HDI 80 in the year on 2010, through improvement of education, health and purcahing power. In 2006, the programs are focused on poverty and unemployment reduction by introducing appropriate agricultural development concept, following the MDGs. To be more comprehensive, geoinformatics approach is needed.


Understanding geoinformatics is very important to analyze and handle complex problems appeared in Indonesia. IPB has a central role in developing human capacity in transdisciplinary approach, quantitative/qualitative methods, socio-nvironmental context, and team working. Hence, the educational system must be grounded by community–based problems which need accurate solution. The Tridharma concept should be implemented holistically and reviewed continuously following the rapid change in societal needs. 


I am motivated by Prof. Patil, who has encouraged me to write a paper related to geoinformatics based on IPB experience in preparing geoinformatics as a transdisciplinary approach. His sponsorship is greatly acknowledged. His excellent talk in IPB (January 2006) enlightened my understanding on geoinformatics.  


Bartholomew, D. J., F. Steele, I. Moustaki, and J. I. Galbraita. 2002. The Analysis and Interpretation of Multivariate Data for Social Scientists. Chapman and Hall. CRC.

FKH-IPB, 2006. A Survey on Avian Influenza. Project Report of FKH-IPB Team.

IPB, 2005. The Annual Report of IPB

Kompas, 2006. DBD Map in Indonesia (newspaper).

Saefuddin, A., N. Fadlil, and M. Nanere, 2006. Mini-survey onGMO Opinion: IPB’s Student Case (under proposition).

Storma, 2006. Mini Report on Storma by IPB Team.

Yudhoyono, 2004. Agricultural and Rural Development for Poverty and Unemployment : Political-Economy Fiscal Analysis. PhD Thesis.

Yudhoyono, 2006. Investation in The Transition of Democration. Presidential Talk at IPB SBM Launching. 


One Response

  1. Assalamu’alaikum mas Awang.
    Wah nggak nyangka kalo mas Awang perhatian juga ke geoinformatics. Sekedar info nih mas, saya di ilkom sedang belajar spatial data mining yaitu teknik komputasi untuk menggali pengetahuan yang tersimpan dalam basis data spasial yang sangat besar. Penelitan yang sudah selesai : karakterisasi spasial desa miskin di jabar, spatial trend detectkion desa miskin di bogor dan data warehouse kebakaran hutan di kaltim. yang sedang dikerjakan : spatial association rule, spatial outlier detection, spatial clustering
    kapan-kapan bisa ngobrol lagi ya mas

    Hari agung
    Computer Science Dept IPB

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