Honolulu, HawaiiThe ApproachCode for America’s partnership with the City & County of Honolulu was aunique experience for both parties. The City & County of Honolulu’s area ofresponsibility includes all of the island of Oahu which houses 75% of Hawaii’spopulation. Honolulu’s culture is also deeply rooted in native Hawaiian historyand traditions. This really sets it apart from any city on the mainland.Although Honolulu is known to be a popular tourist attraction and one of themost beautiful places in the world, Honolulu is still a city with city problems.When the fellows arrived, there was no specific project in mind. During the5 week residency, the fellows worked out of city hall, conducted over 100interviews, and hosted as well as attended many events.City & County of Honolulu’s Population: 953,20710th largest municipality in the U.S.On the island of OahuHonolulu’s 2012 Fellows: Mick Thompson, Diana Tran, Sheba Najmi
The ProjectsHonolulu Answershttp://answers.honolulu.govSometimes it’s really hard to find an answerto a question on a city website. And evenonce someone finds the content, it might bedifficult to understand, incomplete, or notlinked to the relevant resources to completethe task. Honolulu Answers puts a simplesearch interface front and center for theuser, allowing them to ask a question aboutcity government much like they would aska neighbor. The answers are rewritten fromthe cities website to ensure they are bothcomplete, concise and straightforward. Ifthere are steps needed to take the action, itlists them. If there are online services that canhelp, it links to them.
Adopt-a-Sirenhttp://sirens.honolulu.govThere are many things that residents can do to help their city. But sometimes iseasy to assume that someone will do it or that someone else will report a problem.The warning sirens across Oahu are very important in the event of a disaster. Theyare the first line of defense. So it is important that they work properly, and thatissues are reported promptly. Because Adopt-a-Airen reused the Adopt-a-Hydrantapplication from last year’s Boston team, Adopt-a-Siren was able to be launchedquickly. This simple application prompts residents for feedback about their nearbysirens on the day of the test.
Art Finderhttp://art.honolulu.govThe city has a wealth of art in public places. Most people dont where they can go toview these pieces of public art. Most definitely dont know the history behind manyof the pieces of art. In Honolulu, which has a very distinct history, this can be veryinteresting and important. The public art finder was a reuse of an application fromlast year that allows residents and visitors to find out more about the public art inHonolulu.
Adopt-a-Streamhttp://streams.honolulu.govAfter launching adopt-a-siren and seeing the successful adoption of so many sirens,other departments in the city got excited about extending their adopting programsonline. The department of environmental services, identified stream adoption sitesand the adopt-a website was updated to support both sirens and streams.
RouteViewhttp://routeview.honolulu.govCombining some the existing camera image data from the city with Google mapsand traffic data produced a valuable tool for finding a clear route across town.Honolulu can have some of the worst traffic in the country, and routeview can helpgive driver a better idea of where they should avoid.
Social Media Handbookhttp://social.honolulu.govSocial media can be an effective tool when used well. Nowadays cities are expectedto know how to communicate with their citizens and visitors using social media. Insome cases this is a new thing for cities to take on and their can benefit from someshared best practices. As the city of Honolulu ramped up their efforts to do traininginternally this guide was produced to capture some of the highlights for others touse.
data.honolulu.govhttp://data.honolulu.govMany of the projects involved getting new dataset released to the public. As moredatasets came together there was a need to provided a resource for the community.This new data portal has become the canonical place for the city to post newdatasets and provides developers with an API to build applications that use citydata.
The EventsUnconferenz — This event in Februarywas a great chance for the fellows andcommunity to mix, talk about new ideas,and find opportunities to work togetherfor the coming year.Geeks on DaBus — The city did a greatjob developing the very handy DaBusapplication, this event focused on gettingthe message out to the community thatthis awesome application exists.Write-a-thon — The Write-a-thon broughtthe community and the staff of city halltogether to make easy to understandanswers to questions that citizenscommonly ask. By collaborating boththe city and the residents gained newperspectives. Their combined effortsare what go into the Honolulu answerswebsite, as simple concise answers toeveryday questions.Data.honolulu.gov — There were severalof these events around the launch ofthe new data portal in order to get thedeveloper community up to speed on thenewly released API and get the communityto collaborate on new ideas based onpublic data.
ConclusionIn many ways the contributions of Code for America will live on most inHonolulu through the changes inside and outside of city hall. Althoughwe launched several successful projects, and worked with the city and thecommunity to make sure those can be sustained, the larger changes are in howthe city and citizens now have increased avenues of working together. We havemade the city data more accessible to the public. This has resulted in an movecivically inclined and motivated developer community.As citizens stand up and take a more active role in working with their citygovernment, there is more understanding on both sides. By connecting withthe citizens that are users of the website city staff has been able to add easy tounderstand explanations of how to interact with city services. As citizens seethe vast amount of services the city provides to so many people, they not onlyappreciate the scale of city government but have been looking to see how theycan be a part of the solution. Using applications like adopt-a-siren the city canorganize efforts of the community to work together to report issues, and makesure critical infrastructure is in place when needed.While the applications and the data that we produced and released werecertainly important. The lasting impact of citizens that are trying to solve issuesin their city, with a city that is receptive to getting input and working togetherwith residents, is the most important outcome.