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:
- Ryan Ozawa – Write-a-thon video, Flickr photos, Hawaii Open Data post
- Burt Lum – Huffington Post article, Flickr photos
- Sheba Najmi – Introducing: Honolulu Answers & Write-a-thon
- Sean Nakamura – Code for America “Write-a-Thon”
- Arthur Grau – Rewrite Local Government
- Interaction Awards – Honolulu Answers
- MSNBC video – Honolulu Answers