I had never been to any of the islands of Hawai’i before. All I’ve known of this very isolated tropical island chain is from pictures and movies. It’s a paradise in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by beaches and filled with a rich abundance of plant and animal life. But in the middle of all that surf, sun, and sand is a large city that as cities do, faces challenges. The City and County of Honolulu provides a lot of services everyday. It maintains services like water, sewer, and trash collection. It provides adequate transit to get people around the entire island. It helps the less fortunate find work and housing to create a stable livelihood for themselves and their children. It maintains parks, including beaches, for the people to be able to exercise, relax, and enjoy their beautiful home. It does all of this while welcoming millions of visitors to the island every year.
O’ahu, the island where the city of Honolulu can be found, still feels like a small community. The people here are friendly, helpful, and definitely go the extra mile to make visitors like my and my fellow teammates feel like we are at home. They have made sure we get to enjoy the local culture, sights, and of course the food including the local dish poke, a delicious raw fish salad. They also bring this same sense of community to issues that face their home. When the opportunity was presented to gather together and brainstorm how to solve some of the challenges facing their city, they did. In fact 140 people came to CityCampHNL to talk about what could be done. A month later, six teams took to development of civic apps at the followup hackathon. They tackled issues ranging from transit to information about the parks.
It is wonderful to see the momentum the community already has towards working on civic applications. There is already an awesome group of people working hard to see their city continue to thrive. I am happy and honored to be on the Honolulu team, working alongside them.