Wiki Peta Bahasa: Unveiling Indonesia Traditional Languages Diversity through Ushahidi as an Open Web Maps

It is undeniable that language is a cultural heritage, often serving as a defining aspect of a culture’s ethnic identity. an alarming reality looms as approximately 40% of traditional languages confront the threat of extinction, with nearly 3,000 languages facing potential disappearance by the century’s end (UNESCO, 2022). This decline is spurred by globalization, modernization, the blending of international cultures, and the dwindling number of speakers. In response, UNESCO designated February 21 as International Mother Language Day to combat this imminent loss.

Indonesia, renowned for its abundant cultural heritage encompassing indigenous languages, confronts this issue. With a linguistic tapestry boasting over 700 indigenous languages, Indonesia is the world’s second-most linguistically diverse nation, trailing only Papua New Guinea (Statistics Indonesia, 2023). The Ministry of Education and Culture’s Language Development and Fostering Agency classifies these languages into various categories based on their status, ranging from safe to extinct. Regrettably, the Ministry of Education and Culture’s  (2022) findings paint a worrisome picture: 11 of Indonesia’s indigenous languages have already vanished, while 25 are perilously close to extinction. Astonishingly, among the 718 languages, merely 25 can be categorized as secure. 

A collaborative initiative between Wikimedia Indonesia (WMID) and Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) now endeavors to tackle this crisis. Their solution is creating an openly accessible online map named “Wiki Peta Bahasa,” dedicated to spatially visualizing Indonesia’s local languages. Despite the Ministry of Education and Culture’s documentation of the 720 languages, the significance of visualizing the geographical spread of each traditional language must be considered in the realm of conservation and revitalization. The Wiki Peta Bahasa started to develop in November 2020, with its official release following suit in December of the same year. Using the Ushahidi platform, Peta Bahasa enables local communities to contribute to and amend reports concerning the presence of traditional languages within their surroundings. Presently, the platform proudly hosts 2,189 language reports, each serving as a testament to the linguistic richness woven throughout Indonesia.

The 2,189 reports of traditional languages on Wiki Peta Bahasa

Empowering Conservation and Revitalization Efforts with Peta Bahasa

Undoubtedly, globalization has many benefits, facilitating effective cross-cultural and cross-linguistic communication. For example, English, operating as a universal language, motivates individuals from diverse nations to acquire English proficiency for interaction with counterparts from around the globe. Additionally, English serves as a medium for various advantages, such as accessing the internet and digital tools, enjoying entertainment, conducting research and documentation, and exploring career opportunities, all aimed at engaging broader audiences. 

Unfortunately, this trend inadvertently diminishes the importance of native languages, leading to a decline in local language speakers. As reported by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, 11 native languages vanished in 2022, leaving only 25 out of 718 languages secure from extinction. To address this issue, the Ministry of Education and Culture researched from 1991 to 2019 to document Indonesia’s traditional languages (, visualizing them on a map across the 38 provinces of Indonesia and identifying 718 languages from 2,560 observation areas. Alongside the spatial visualization of these 718 languages in the provinces, the Ministry also collected brief descriptions of each local language.

The “Peta Bahasa” (Language Map), created by the Ministry of Education and Culture, is a comprehensive initiative that documents local languages categorized within the 38 provinces of Indonesia.

However, this documentation had limitations, as traditional languages were only identified by province, needing more specificity. To address this gap, Wikimedia Indonesia (WMID) partnered with the Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) to create an online map that precisely locates local languages, known as “Wiki Peta Bahasa.” This collaboration also involved local communities, encouraging them to contribute information about the indigenous languages they know and the regions where these languages are spoken. Utilizing an open-source platform, specifically Ushahidi, this project empowers anyone to add reports about traditional language information they possess.

This initiative aims to safeguard and uphold Indonesia’s cultural legacy by focusing on preserving its indigenous languages. Utilizing an online map, individuals have the opportunity to pinpoint the geographical distribution of these languages. This accessibility facilitates a more straightforward process for those interested in finding more information or physically visiting the areas where these languages thrive. The open-source nature of “Wiki Peta Bahasa” ensures free access for everyone. Additionally, as awareness about these local languages grows, their presence in Indonesian society becomes more resilient, reducing the risk of them fading into obscurity.

Developing the Wiki Peta Bahasa

The development of Wiki Peta Bahasa commenced in November 2020. This interactive online mapping platform enables communities to contribute reports and offer feedback on existing information. Utilizing the open-source Ushahidi software, designed to empower communities and protect the existence of local languages, was an apt choice for creating Wiki Peta Bahasa.
As the developer of Wiki Peta Bahasa, the Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) collected the local language information from the Ministry of Culture and Education. In addition, the data collected was combined with the data from Wikidata, which encompassed crucial elements such as traditional language names, geographical coordinates, and even accent sounds. Before deploying this data to the Ushahidi platform, it was converted to the .csv format, taking approximately four weeks to complete. Subsequently, creating the Ushahidi platform of the 2.0 version and entering data required three weeks. The entered data was then organized into six categories based on geographical regions: Sumatera, Java (Jawa), Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku and Papua. Simultaneously, during the data entry phase in December, the POI team rigorously conducted platform testing for accuracy, culminating in the release of Wiki Peta Bahasa in the final week of December.

The developing process of the Wiki Peta Bahasa

In addition to data collected by POI, local communities are actively encouraged to contribute reports via their mobile phones or desktop computers. The report entry process includes essential information like the language name, optional accent sound, coordinate location, area category, and personal details such as name and email address. Collecting personal information is essential for cross-referencing the data, ensuring the accuracy of crowdsourced information.

Wiki Peta Bahasa, with its digital and interactive map platform, plays a vital role in raising awareness about the existence of local languages. The more people become aware of these languages’ presence, the lower the likelihood of their fading into obscurity.

The necessary details for adding a report to Wiki Peta Bahasa include the following information to be completed.

Involving Communities to Enhance and Enrich Data Accuracy

In the present era, community engagement and collaboration have gained significant momentum, serving various purposes, including collecting data for preserving and conserving cultural heritage. Through community-driven efforts in crowdsourcing data, the collection process becomes notably swift, leveraging the efficiency and productivity inherent in such collaborative endeavors. At its finest, this approach represents a digitally-enabled form of participation. It creates meaningful opportunities for the public to interact with collections while engaging in activities that make data collection accessible and usable by others. This methodology was also applied in a joint project by the Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) and Wikimedia Indonesia (WMID) to develop Wiki Peta Bahasa.

The Wiki Peta Bahasa web map empowers local communities to contribute and enhance information about traditional languages. This inclusive approach ensures easy access to the map, allowing individuals to explore local languages in their immediate vicinity or any location across Indonesia. This geospatial documentation process proves highly efficient and impartial. By harnessing the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and modern communication technology, coupled with the active engagement of community members, an impressive total of 2,189 reports detailing traditional languages were accumulated within two months.

Moreover, the local community played a crucial role in validating the data’s credibility by providing feedback on each entry within Wiki Peta Bahasa. This collaborative effort significantly bolsters the data quality of Wiki Peta Bahasa, as local knowledge from community members dramatically contributes to maintaining the accuracy of crowdsourced data.

Wiki Peta Bahasa stands as an invaluable resource. It grants access to individuals interested in local languages, allowing them to explore these languages through the website or even visit the actual field locations, as the coordinated information is transparently presented on the platform. The substantial number of reports within Wiki Peta Bahasa, contributed in part by these engaged communities, highlights the profound impact of community empowerment in swiftly gathering information. This data carries immense potential for preservation and conservation efforts, aiming to prevent the gradual disappearance of traditional languages, particularly considering that only 25 languages are currently secure from the threat of extinction.

Accessible, Quality, Open Geospatial Data for All