HUDís Next Door Kiosks Are a Hit
By Candi Harrison
March 22, 1999
The Department of Housing
and Urban Development is reinventing the way it delivers information
and services to the public, and the new HUD Next Door Kiosk is
one product of this effort. These new electronic kiosks -- located
in Federal buildings, shopping malls, libraries, transportation
centers, city halls, grocery stores and other public places around
the country -- allow citizens access to basic HUD information,
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, much the way they would use an
ATM at the bank. This is just one of the ways that HUD is empowering
citizens, by giving them the information they need to solve their
own problems, when they need it and in terms they can understand.
Is Tailored to the Community Itís In
The information on
the kiosk is tailored to the community where the kiosk is located.
We expect citizens to spend about 5-10 minutes using the kiosks.
If they need more information, they can visit a HUD office (the
address, phone number, and fax number of the closest HUD office
is shown at the bottom of every page they print from the kiosk).
One of the best aspects
of the HUD Next Door Kiosks is that they are web-based. That means
that we can control their content centrally and that we can update
it easily and remotely. It also means that everything on the kiosks
also is on the home page - so the kiosk and home page are consistent.
The kiosk is housed
in an attractive surround with pictures of the local community.
At the top is a "ticker tape" that can be used to announce
community events. The kiosk itself is operated by the touch of
a finger. There is an onscreen hostess who talks the user through
the menu. Where appropriate, kiosks have both English and Spanish
At the kiosk, citizens
can see what HUD is doing in their communities; learn how to buy
a home; find affordable rental housing; find a homeless shelter;
and discover how to file a housing discrimination complaint. Itís
loaded with practical tips for consumers on ways to make their
homes more healthy and ways to avoid being a victim of fraud.
If citizens want to know what HUD properties are for sale in their
area, they just push a button and print out the list. If theyíre
interested in buying a home, they can use the mortgage calculator
to find out instantly how much they can afford.
Citizens can walk away
with a print out of HUD approved lenders or a list of local housing
counseling agencies who can help them figure out their housing
options. In short, the kiosk helps citizens cut through the red
tape of government bureaucracy because it allows them to find
out what they need to know, without having to pick up a telephone
or wait for a HUD office to open.
To create this cutting
edge technology, HUD worked with Gensler Associates architectural
firm, with Advanced Technology Systems, who assisted with content
development, and with two leaders in kiosk technology: North Communications
and Summit Research.
HUD unveiled the first
kiosk in May 1998 at the opening of the Departmentís first storefront
office in Washington, DC. As of March 15, 1999, there are 43 HUD
Next Door Kiosks throughout the country. HUD plans to install
a total of 90 kiosks by the end of FY 1999
All too often, the
government lags far behind the private sector in using technology,
despite the fact that it can save substantial amounts of money
in the long term and enable us to give better service to our customers.
The HUD Next Door Kiosk is a concept, which is both on the cutting
edge of technology and a model of efficient government service.
It brings HUD to the people, instead of making the people come
Programs like HUDíS
kiosks are on their way to achieving Vice President Gore's vision
in his 1997 report, Access America. "The kind of government we'll
have as we begin the next century," the Vice President said, "will
be a government where all Americans have the opportunity to get
services electronically and where, aided by technology, the productivity
of government operations will be soaring."
The HUD Next Door Kiosks
have been recognized by Vice President Goreís National Partnership
for Reinventing Government with the Hammer Award, for improving
the delivery of service to the public; and theyíve received favorable
press in the New York Times, the Denver Post, and
the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In addition, the HUD Next
Door Kiosks has been named a semi-finalist for Harvardís 1999
Innovations in American Government Award.
interviewed said they enjoyed the kiosk, found it easy to
use, easy to navigate, and would use it again without hesitation.
Demographically, this was a very diverse group, and all users
--from widely divergent socio-economic groups--used the kiosks
easily, without outside assistance and without difficulty.
- Francine Mendelsohn, Summit Research.
was the hit of the (trade) show! We did not have the best
booth, location wise, but we had crowds six deep. The Fair
was in El Paso and the Spanish version was used about 50%
of the time. The most used feature at this particular show
(first time homebuyers) was the mortgage calculator. I encourage
you all to use this tool. - Andy Hackney, HUD Lubbock Office
About the Author
Candi Harrison is Web
Manager for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in
Washington, DC. You may reach her at (202) 708-1547 or Candis_B._Harrison@hud.gov.
and Urban Development Website
President Goreís Hammer Awards
in American Government Award Program
Storefront Office a Model of Community Partnership