Tech savvy residents 'hack' into community problems

It's called 'Civic Hacking;' similar gatherings held across the nation

 UPDATED 9:41 PM HST Jun 01, 2013
HONOLULU -

These days, the word "hacking" doesn't always bring up a positive connotation.  But a gathering of creative and civic minded residents are changing that and at the same time trying to make a change in the community.

If great minds think alike, then there was a lot of brain power in the room this Saturday morning.  Those gathered at R&D in Kakaako were using smart phones, laptops and tablets to solve complex social problems.

“There’s a great opportunity for this collaboration to look at ways we can bring some technology to help address some of the challenges that government is facing,” said Bert Lum, organizer for Hack to the Future.

It's called civic hacking and similar gatherings were held across the nation today.

“In this case, we’re looking at how we can create better ways of building some applications, identifying city infrastructure allowing citizen engagement and it’s not the norm, which is why it’s called hacking,” said Lum.

It's taking a simple idea, such as an app to tell you where to find the nearest bike rack, to bigger places and larger problems such as parking meters, blocked storm drains, and abandoned cars.
How to address the homeless problem is what brought the Colin Kippen, chair of the governor's council on homelessness to today's gathering.

“To be able to use something as simple as a cell phone to be able to collect better information so that we can communicate to broader people and really start to like a net, pull it all together, so we can have really good information about where the resources are and where people are who need our help,” said Kippen.

Another bridge being created is the civically engaged individuals and a younger generation of tech savvy citizens who want to make a difference in their community.

“I think the applications that are going to result from these technologies converging and the people who are interested in participating is going to create some really interesting opportunities,” said Lum.

"Da Bus" app -- the one that tells you if your bus is on time -- came out of a previous Civic Hacking event.
The website for how to get involved in the next one is on our website, KITV dot com.

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