Computer problems are being blamed for causing an unexpected statewide shutdown of motor vehicle licensing offices Friday afternoon.
The problem forced the city to test its disaster recovery plan for the first time and although a major inconvenience for customers, the situation proved the system works.
Staff at the Motor Vehicle and Licensing offices first started having trouble getting access to the mainframe around 11:30 a.m. Friday.
City customer services director, Dennis Kamimura said city IT administrators kept them updated on the repairs.
"They told me at first it would be done in 30 minutes then came back out and said there was a major problem," said Kamimura.
Motor Vehicle & Licensing offices were able to process written drivers’ license tests and taxi cab tests, but forced to shut down for the rest of the day.
"This is the first time that has ever occurred in my thirty-five plus years where the computer has been shut down for more than thirty minutes," said Kamimura.
Department of Information and Technology Director, Gordon Bruce said the problem was computer hardware failure. He said when they realized the main computer system would require a new part, they kicked in the protocol for disaster recovery -- basically a backup system.
The system was fixed and switched back by midnight, so at least the website was back online for the weekend.
"We came in this morning and we had to reset some routers at the various satellite city halls, which was expected. Once we did that, then the systems started working," said Bruce.
The concern still lies in how well the licensing offices will be able to handle the estimated extra 60,000 customers a year when the state hands over state ID processing services to the city in January.
Bruce said the city's computer system is one of the best in the nation.
Kamimura said the process to get an ID is the same as issuing a drivers' license and the state is providing support.
"The state DOT is providing the counties with funding to hire staff," said Kamimura.
The first day to get state IDs at the motor vehicle licensing offices will be Jan. 2.
The computer failure also prevented Honolulu Police from accessing vehicle registrations on line, but HPD has its own backup system.
City officials said no personal information was compromised.