29 Jun

Company Spotlight: Gojek

By Tamanna Akter

This month, the American Geographical Society had the opportunity to virtually meet with Nate Smith, Head of Business and Product, and leading the cartography team at Gojek. Gojek (part of GoTo Group) was created in 2010 and launched its application offering ride-hailing, courier and personal shopper services in Indonesia, in 2015. Today, Gojek has become a leading on-demand platform in Southeast Asia with more than 20 services, from transportation to food delivery, logistics, payments, and more. During the meeting, Smith gave AGS a tour of how Gojek provides such a wide range of on-demand services to consumers across Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

For an app like Gojek, providing services such as ride sharing or food deliveries requires mapping services that significantly rely on geospatial technologies. When dealing with location data, designing travel routes, arrival times, or pick-up and drop-off locations, Gojek develops mapping technology and uses GIS to fulfill their core tasks. Desktop GIS and some open source services such as QGIS are used by Smith and his cartography team. Currently, the team is in the process of developing their own techniques to provide a more efficient and user-friendly experience, including enhancing the map display, routing APIs, reverse geocoding, analyzing routing problems and predicting traffic, and generating hyper-local information. 

The “freshness of information,”  Smith recognizes, “is an area we are constantly focusing on at Gojek.” He explains how the company is enhancing efforts to grow and update pick-up and drop-off locations, points of interest, and fast-changing locations like restaurants. Accuracy and automation are other areas that the tech giant is working on, as providing correct and trustworthy information to customers is a main goal for the company. Because Southeast Asian urban areas are rapidly expanding, modeling the real world is inevitably challenging. Gojek is investing in automated technologies as a way to generate automatic feedback loops between customers and drivers, essentially collecting up-to-date information and reducing the need for on-the-ground work. Smith added that Gojek always encourages user feedback to improve the services they provide. 

During the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Gojek had to act fast to meet the emerging needs and online delivery trends. This included increasing efforts to bring more merchants online, ensuring driver-income sustainability, incorporating localized travel regulations, and rerouting drivers with updated roads, among others. Prior to the pandemic, food delivery was a growing and promising sector, and the emergence of COVID-19 accelerated that. Through the app, users have access to a wide array of restaurants thanks to the company quickly connecting merchants online and delivering food while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. The passion of recognizing and fulfilling consumer needs during a crisis like COVID-19 has made Gojek a hugely successful and sustainable tech company. 

When asked about future opportunities for aspiring geospatial analysts, Smith sees many. Within his team, Smith has brought on a wide range of expertise, from professionals like product managers, software engineers, data scientists and geospatial analysts, and map operations teams. GIS and project management skills come together to continually improve and enhance the mapping services in the user interface. 

Smith also mentioned how people with non-geospatial backgrounds can contribute to geospatial work. To optimize drop-off location information, Gojek is in the process of creating localized pick-up points in areas where multiple languages may be spoken, with both formal and informal names for locations. This means Gojek is on the lookout for data scientists with language analysis skills. However, for future geospatial analysts, Smith suggests developing a customer-centric mindset to prioritize the user experience when developing any product, application, system, or service – a fundamental skill to make a name in on-demand multi-service tech companies like Gojek. 

AGS looks forward to seeing how Gojek grows as they continue to provide countless opportunities to folks in the geospatial industry. For more information about Gojek, check out their website here