This video is of Jen Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America delivering the keynote address at the CfA Summit. It brings to light the movement we are a part of to help create a smarter government through civic engagement. I've talked before about the confluence of events that brought me to this point and to witness the intersection of all the people at the Summit is quite amazing.
Personally, I will be sorting through all the information presented at the conference for some time to come. There were the personal contacts, civic accelerators, CfA Brigade members, videos to watch, links to explore and the myriad of ideas swirling around in my head. This CfA Summit experience is an incredible view into a movement that is happen across the country.
In the video Jen talks about living in the intersection, on the boundaries of one environment to the next. This civic movement is the intersection between the monolithic, bureaucratic government and the lean, agile, civic hacker community. Technologies that brought us smartphones, the Internet and app development are scratching the surface of government, and assuming willing participants within government, we are seeing news ways of engaging and collaborating. Watch Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's speech as a mayor who gets it. And as David Eaves, MC for the CfA Summit would say:
Code for America is not really about hacking code—it’s about hacking culture.
I'm not sure how much Honolulu appreciates this but with the help of CfA and the dynamic duo of Gordon Bruce and Forest Frizzell, we did a lot to hack the culture of the City & County of Honolulu. We did CityCamp Honolulu, Civic Hackathon, Geeks on DaBus, Honolulu Answers and now Hon*Celerator. We also brought design thinking into City government. Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going, regardless of who the next Mayor is.
Have a great October and before we get into the frenzy of elections, enjoy the videos, photos and links from the CfA Summit.
In late July the City and County of Honolulu in partnership with Code for America launched Honolulu Answers. For a government website it is refreshingly simple, just a form on a pretty background for you to ask the City a question.
The inspiration came through interviews the CfA fellows had with City employees and citizens. Their realization was that the existing Honolulu.gov site was like staring at a fire hose of information. Although redesigning the main site did come up in early conversations, Honolulu Answers became a more realistic site to achieve given the time and resources involved.
The key to a site like this not so much the frontend, although I love the simplicity, it relies heavily on the backend content management system. In order to kick off the site there needed to be enough content built into the site to make it relevant. To that end CfA and the City coordinated a first of a kind Write-a-thon. Think of it as a hackathon for writers.
55 attendees, both citizens and City subject matter experts, chose frequently asked questions and worked together to craft answers for the site. Like the CityCamp Honolulu event held late last year, it was a gathering of people who may not normally collaborate together.
In fact many asked if this event was going to happen again and the answer is yes! Mark your calendar for Saturday, Sept 22nd from 9am to 2pm for the 2nd Honolulu Answers Write-a-thon. We'll review what the answer process is, review what topics need to be addressed and then delve into the questions. Please RSVP here. And as in all of our events, lunch will be provided.
Just for fun, here are some links from the 1st Honolulu Answers Write-a-thon:
Thank you to all for being an integral part of Honolulu's first CityCamp. It was by all measures a great success, all because of you. I love how the community came together, shared knowledge and brainstormed ideas. It was inspiring to see City employees collaborating with the community in a productive, can-do environment.
As the day concluded, many people asked, what's next? CityCamp Honolulu was just a catalyst, a spark that we must now nurture and fuel to create lasting change. As Forest Frizzell said, "we will continue to have monthly meetups throughout 2012 as we usher in Code for America."
Some key dates to keep in mind:
Fri-Sat, January 20-21, 2012 - CityCampHNL Hack-a-thon
Saturday, February 25, 2012 - Unconferenz 2012
We will also keep you informed of any meetups that get scheduled through our Facebook page, Twitter and blog.
We wil also continue the conversation and develop our ideas online. Here are a couple resources I encourage you to participate in:
City Camp Honolulu is an event sponsored by the City & County of Honolulu that I have the honor of working on. I've been hired to help organize this event that brings City experts together with the community who are interested in building applications around accessible City data. There is a move in this current administration to embrace the principles of open government, Gov. 2.0 and transparency, to make data available for citizens, not only to build apps but to better understand and be a part of the city they live in.
You can find details of CityCampHNL at the website. CityCampHNL is not just for the tech community. We are looking for programmers, designers, artists, businesses, entrepreneurs and engaged citizens. We want to hear your ideas about what can make Honolulu a better place to live. If you have ideas we encourage you to check out this list and make your suggestion. In an unconference format we will build sessions around these ideas and explore how we can bring these ideas into reality. More so, we encourage you to be a part of this exciting process and register for the event.
In addition to the website and idea page we are active on Facebook and Twitter. CityCampHNL is not a singular event. We will also have a application building hackathon in conjunction with CityCampHNL in January 2012 leading up the the launch of Code for America in February 2012. Please stay tuned as this will be an exciting time for Honolulu as we stir the crucible of tech and talent.
On the campus of the University of Hawaii this week, Governor Abercrombie announced a broadband initiative to provide statewide access to affordable 1Gb Internet access by 2018. The initiative is said to be key in building a vibrant and sustainable economy and workforce in Hawaii.
Already underway and spearheaded by the University of Hawaii is the implementation of a gigabit network to connect educational institutions like all the public schools, public libraries and every public university and college campus in the State -- fueled by funding from ARRA monies.
This new Hawaii Broadband Initiative addresses high speed Internet access for the residential and commercial market and seeks to align the regulatory framework to expedite the permitting process and to encourage public and private investment and partnership to achieve what the Governor called "transformative infrastructure."
The broadband initiative is being led by the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and is supported by the state's Chief Information Officer and the University of Hawaii. At the tip of the spear for this initiative, the Governor has positioned Keali'i Lopez of the DCCA and Richard Lim of DBEDT. Lopez has tapped Everett Kaneshige to work specifically on this initiative.
Everett Kaneshige, Deputy Director of DCCA, said that they are forming a group within DCCA to look at the regulatory environment for broadband infrastructure and come up with ways to streamline the process. The group is funded by a grant from the Federal Gov't. and covers 2 years of operation. Kaneshige also said, "It's not about building all new infrastructure. We are looking at ways we can work with the telephone company and the cable company to leverage their existing cabling and encourage where appropriate the upgrade to high speed fiber."
The situation in DBEDT is problematic. The department does not have funding to add any additional headcount and current personnel already have their plates full according to Richard Lim, Director of DBEDT. His plan is to use Yuka Nagashima in HTDC to lead the charge and develop the public/private partnerships and investments that will bring this initiative to reality.
We will monitor developments and report on the progress of meeting this goal of affordable, 1Gb access speed to the Internet by 2018.
The 2011 Legislative Session kicked off on Jan. 19 at the State Capitol with an air of optimism but with the realization that hard work needs to be done to cut the budget. At least in the Senate, the presentations reflected a festive mood. This year I got invited by Senate Carol Fukunaga to join her and a few guests on the Senate floor, a first time for me from this vantage point. This video was shot, edited and posted all from my iPhone, something Nani Daniels, local Apple rep and guest might appreciate.