Nestled together on the east coast of Nova Scotia lie the cities and communities which make up the Halifax Regional Municipality. Its a vast expanse of business parks, residential areas, downtown cores huddled neatly around Halifax harbour. For many visitors, it would be easy to think that the Halifax Regional Municipality was all one place, but really there are several communities that make up the HRM. The two largest are Halifax and Dartmouth, but there are also Sackville, Bedford, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage and Eastern Shore.
The Halifax area has become known for its cultural diversity, rich history, opportunities for education, its unparalleled music scene, and its ability to organize top quality events like the World Hockey Championships in 2008, or more recently The Canada Games. Aside from that, people can still find beautiful scenery in places like the Public Gardens, or if they’re feeling old school they can check out one of many historic sites around the city. Halifax is a city with a lot going on. From sports events at the Metro Centre, to plays and concerts at Neptune Theatre, to the annual Busker Festival on the boardwalk.
When you walk around its streets there is a palpable sense of a place that is trying modernize itself while still being able to hold onto the the history that makes the city what it is. For every old, stone building there is a new, modern one beside it.
In a place with so much going on, the people need a way to be able to keep track of it all. Hopefully, using the tool I call “Your HRM”, people will be able to get the information, organization, and connectivity they need to make the Halifax area come alive for them.
Your HRM will be the perfect source for online news and events in and around Halifax. It will combine the reliability of a professional news organization with the convenience, organizational capacity, and connectivity of a social network. It will be something that is truly unique to Halifax, and will change the way people in the area interact with one another. Its simple to sign up for people and businesses.
Your HRM will be staffed primarily by journalists. The people of Halifax have come to rely on the current news sources for their information. The problem is that these sources are becoming scarce. The Daily News newspaper was shut down several years ago and replaced by a free paper called the METRO, which was a significant step in the opposite direction. The Your HRM homepage will be the best place in Halifax to catch up on the most important news from the area.
Aside from this, users will be able to customize their own news using the Your News page. By entering keywords in the “Yes Please” bar on their news page, users will be able to control what kind of stories will make it to their own news page. For example, someone who wants to keep up with the Halifax Mooseheads junior hockey team can enter the keyword Mooseheads in the “Yes Please” bar. From then on, any story written by Your HRM about the Mooseheads will appear on the user’s Your News page. Adversely, if there is something that the user would definitely not like to read about, they can enter that keyword in the “No Thanks” bar. News containing that keyword or subject will be filtered out of their news page. Keywords entered into either of the bars will be saved automatically, but can be changed if need be.
Timelines on Your HRM will revolutionize the way that Haligonians schedule public events, and the way local reporters cover community stories. Being such a diverse city with many public events held daily, Halifax needs a place where it can see everything that is going on in the area without having to jump from one website to the next. This is where Timelines comes in. Users can jump to the Timelines page of the website to see the most comprehensive list of events happening in and around Halifax.
The Timelines page will be full of, well, timelines. The beauty of it will be that for the most part the timelines will be user generated. Users will be able to request making a timeline for a specific place, group, team, or business. From there, the User will be made an administrator for that timeline and will be able to add events to it. For example, if the Cole Harbour Midget AAA hockey team wants a timeline, they can send a request to Your HRM. Once they have their timeline, they can add events to it. From there other users can see when that hockey team is playing, practicing, or going away for tournaments. Also, people will be able to follow certain timelines or even just a specific event from a Timeline. Once they select a timeline or an event to follow, it updates the user’s “Your Timeline” page. More on that later.
As mentioned above, Timelines will for the most part be user generated. The obvious problem with this is that there will be too many to keep track of. The solution is to have a bunch of categories already made. For example, Concerts, The Bar Scene, Major Sports Events, Major Political Events, and Universities will be given their own timelines. That way when any requests come in that fit under these categories, they can be referenced to one of the pre existing timelines. The ones that don’t fall into these categories can be found and followed using a search bar that will find the title of the Timeline in question.
There will also be a Timeline called “Top Events”. Here, the events that have the most people following them will be allocated. If an event makes the “Top Events” Timeline, you can be sure that a reporter from Your HRM will be there to cover it. If a specific user was one of the people following a top event, the story written by the Your HRM reporter will automatically show up on that user’s Your News page as soon as its posted.
I also said that timelines will revolutionize community based reporting in the Halifax area. Aside from being able to add Timelines and Events, administrators will be able to “Request a Reporter” for their event. Reporter requests will be sent to Your HRM staff page where reporters can look at all of the reporter requests, and respond personally to the ones they wish to cover. Of course, there’s no guarantee that ever reporter request can be filled, but it certainly changes the way that community reporting is done, and Halifax will be forefront.
Your Timeline will be exactly what it sounds like: your timeline. Any Timelines or Events a user chooses to follow will be automatically added to that users own Timeline. It will be the easiest way for the user to keep track of all the things in Halifax that interest them like concerts, their theatre club’s rehearsal schedules, sales at their favourite stores, or upcoming lectures at their university. If the user happens to have two events that conflict with each other, Your HRM will be the first let the user know. Your Timeline will appear at the top of the Timelines page.
To pay for such an ambitious project, Your HRM would have to charge a small subscription fee of 10 dollars a year. This is less than a newspaper subscription costs, and the full content and functionality of the website would be available to the user. The subscription fees would go towards paying the staff of Your HRM, renting the office space needed to run the company and helping to pay for the necessary equipment.
Aside from being just a website, Your HRM will also be available as an app for smartphones and tablets. The app would cost a one-time fee of 3 dollars, and the money made from the app would go towards the continued development of Your HRM. It would contribute to the development of new features and content editing options, to allow users to further customize their Halifax experience.
We would also sell ad space to businesses in the Halifax area. Businesses can feel confident that their ads would reach the right demographic because Your HRM is made specifically for people in the Halifax area. Small, Halifax based businesses can be sure that the money they spend on the advertising space isn’t going towards some automated Google ad for Joe in Winnipeg. Its Halifax businesses advertising to the people of Halifax. The money made from advertisements will also go towards paying the staff of Your HRM.
Obviously, the Your HRM project as a whole will be a huge one. The staff will have to be divided the right way so that all of the news that needs to be covered gets covered. Your HRM will have separate teams of people for general reporting, reporting top events, and filling in reporter requests. The largest team will the team of general reporters. Halifax is a big busy place, and not everything that happens there is planned and public. Just like any other city, there are accidents, scandals, and all sorts of things that happen out of the public eye that need to be reported on. The general reporting team at Your HRM will be dedicated to getting you the news you need to to know. The homepage, after all, is and always will be top stories in Halifax, no matter how the users personalize their own account. The top events reporters are dedicated to reporting about the most popular and well attended events from the Timelines page. The reporter requests team will look at all of the Timeline events that have requested reporters. They will select their own stories from the list and personally contact the Timeline administrator to let them know a Your HRM reporter will be coming. The Top Events team and Reporter Requests team will be at the forefront of revolutionizing community reporting.
Your HRM will be the first site of its kind. It will bring the communities of the Halifax Regional Municipality closer together than ever before with a singular, community based news source, and change the way Haligonians are informed of local happenings forever.