XL Axiata has developed an app designed to improve the productivity and safety of Indonesia’s fishermen by providing information about the weather and tides, location of plankton, wind direction and speed as well as their position at sea.

The ‘mFish’ initiative is an example of XL’s efforts to promote the use of digital technology to improve the performance and productivity of citizens in various fields, said Bambang Parikshit, XL’s VP for the central region.

XL started with the country’s fishing industry and partnered with local application developer Tone. In the first stage, the mFish app runs on the Android operating system and is designed for 3G networks. Using real-time data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the app can detect the presence of fish and provides a detailed map of the sea surface.

The operator started a six-month pilot project, with launches this week in the Yogyakarta area, where it distributed more than 260 so-called mFish packages that consist of a handset (with the app preinstalled), a prepaid SIM with 1GB of data/month, solar battery charger, waterproof bag and a data cable.

Last week it took the programme to Balikpapan, in collaboration with the Institute of Technology Kalimantan, where it has distributed 500 mFish packages to fishermen in two villages. Other areas targeted in the pilot phase are Lombok, Karimun Java, Demak and Tegal.

The operator plans to expand the initiative to other fishing communities, including Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua. It is offering a free SIM card for the first month.