The recent Open Government Pledge on Honolulu.Govfresh.com brought a moment of pause for me as I watched all three Mayoral candidates respond with a YES within minutes of each other. I am one of the three candidates and the incumbent Mayor, Peter Carlisle. When I see the other candidates take the Open Government Pledge it makes me wonder what that really means to them. For me, since talking office in October 2010 my administration has lived the Open Government ethos. It’s not a campaign slogan or a bullet point on a city presentation. It is a philosophy I hold dear and have brought people into my administration that can make it happen.
Gordon Bruce, Director of the Dept of Information Technology (DIT) and his Deputy Director Forest Frizzell embody this open philosophy. Bruce was the Director of DIT for six years when I was elected and he laid the groundwork for an IT infrastructure common across the various city departments. I felt it important to keep Bruce on board and have him continue the work he started 6 years ago. He and his Deputy, Forest Frizzell have continued to make more information about the city available through open datasets and collaborative interactions with the public.
In 2011 Honolulu was recognized as the #1 Digital City by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology. We also build a collaborative environment with our civic minded tech community during a CityCamp in December 2011. The motivation was to encourage an open dialog between the community and City officials on what kinds of issues can the community help solve with access to data. In January 2012 the City sponsored a first ever Civic Hackathon which resulted in several application prototypes. By April 2012 we had our first community generated app called DaBus that provides Bus routes, Bus Stop locations and arrival times based on open Bus APIs. This means you and your family can make reliable transportation plans.
Realizing that opening up data and encouraging collaboration does not happen over night I issued a letter to all my department heads to bring focus to my ongoing commitment to open government. We also launched Data.Honolulu.gov to showcase the datasets, budgets and date visualizations that we are continually making available. Through our 2012 engagement with Code for America we recently released Adopt a Siren, Route View and Art Finder. All of these websites are showcased on our website Can-Do.Honolulu.gov where we feature websites and applications made by citizens and City employees alike. Just this past month we conducted the first ever Write-a-thon that brought community together with City subject-matter-experts to help answer citizen generated questions. We took this user-centric approach to bring simplicity and clarity to our community’s frequently asked questions. Essentially, we heard questions from people from in the community about what they wanted the city to answer, and we will provide those answers at answers.honolulu.gov.
My administration integrating technology with government in an effort to increase transparency and engagement. Others might say YES to this Open Government Pledge but I can demonstrate a track record of performance. As I said in my letter to the departments, “By freely sharing data amongst the citizens of the City and County of Honolulu we hope to develop opportunities for economic development, civic engagement and create a more informed citizen.” That has been and continues to be my pledge.