HCR 94 hearing

Inefficiency translates to lost time, dollars and increased frustration for small businesses. That includes the time and effort it takes to extract data sets from government agencies.

State legislators appear to agree that it is time for the state to formally adopted a statewide strategic plan for information technology projects, especially when hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in modernizing and maintaining the state’s multitude of IT systems each year.

HCR 94 and SCR 42 call for the development of a state IT strategic plan to include data goals and objectives. THG strongly supports these resolutions and agrees that the commitment of state leadership to strategic information technology transformation over the long term is essential to the government’s ability to successfully leverage technology toward improving services for Hawaii’s residents and businesses.

HCR 94 was recently heard by the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment, which received strong support from the community and no opposition.  The resolution passed unanimously and moved on to the finance committee where it awaits a hearing date.

“… many states and major municipalities across the United States have adopted open data driven policies that require government agencies to collect and publish data, as well as promote data collection and sharing in the private sector, in recognition that access to empirical data is critical to providing decision makers with the information they need to make informed decisions in the interest of citizens …” —  HCR 94 / SCR 42

While progress has been made since the Legislature established the position of the State of Hawai‘i Chief Information Officer in 2010, a long-term IT strategic plan has yet to be adopted. Such a plan is necessary to:

  • Improve the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and within state government;
  • Maximize our state’s potential for greater accountability, efficiency, and transparency in the use of taxpayer dollars;
  • Best secure protected data and critical infrastructure; and
  • Sufficiently empower our state’s workforce to meet the demands of an increasingly technology-dependent workplace.

Further, as the resolutions recognize, many states across the nation have adopted open data-driven policies that require agencies to collect, maintain and make accessible, where permissible, a variety of data and information to ensure decision-makers have the information they need to make informed decisions in shaping the future of our state. However, our state’s data remains decentralized, limiting the opportunities for integration and achieving data goals.

THG urges coalition members and other like-minded individuals to express their support of these measures as they move forward. Helpful tips on submitting your own testimony are available are THG’s 2018 Priority Legislation webpage.

Office of Facilities uses data-driven cooling strategy

Outdoor weather station Photo: Hawaii Department of Education

Weather station sites were selected based on locations where microclimates such as urban development and geography may impact on the overall temperature. Photo: Hawaii Department of Education

 

When soaring temperatures threatened the effectiveness of learning environments across the state, the Hawaii Department of Education’s (DOE) budgetary commitment to cool Hawaii’s schools was a welcomed reprieve from the sweltering heat.

While air conditioners were the top-of-mind solution for the general public, nuances like budgetary constraints, aging infrastructure and an annual electricity bill of nearly $47 million in 2017 presented challenges. The DOE’s Office of Facilities and Support Services (OFSS) knew it had some homework to do to keep temperatures comfortable without incurring a hefty uptick in DOE’s net energy load.

DOE Utilities Budget | Photo: Hawaii Department of Education

Electricity makes up the bulk of DOE’s utility budget. Click on the photo to enlarge the picture. Photo: Hawaii Department of Education

According to DOE’s website, “Air conditioning isn’t always the best option — many aging school facilities do not have the capacity to support it, nor can the state afford to install and run AC at all DOE schools statewide. The Department’s facilities team analyzes each school and determines an approach that makes the most sense weighing all factors.”

Working in collaboration with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and MKThink, a sustainable architectural design company, OFSS used aggregate data points from each school to guide their heat abatement strategies.

As part of its Heat Abatement Program, DOE installed solar powered outdoor weather stations as well as 62 indoor monitors to track temperatures and environmental data in classrooms statewide in 2017.

http://transformhawaiigov.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-thermal-comfort-website-1.jpg

This year, HIDOE launched its findings from both indoor and outdoor weather stations on the DOE Thermal Comfort website. The site publishes data from schools across the state every thirty minutes.

“The public now has the opportunity to view the environmental conditions we monitor when determining the best cooling method for a classroom,” said Dann Carlson, OFSS assistant superintendent.

The department applies both active and passive energy efficient solutions to reduce heat using a smaller carbon footprint. DOE utilized photovoltaic panels as well as battery storage technology to encourage net-zero power usage for its air-conditioned facilities. Meanwhile, passive strategies include a reduction in the amount of sun-exposed asphalt, which has been known to retain up to 95 percent of heat by installing shade structures, and application of reflective roof coating on portables as well as utilizing ceiling and duct ventilation to push residual heat out of classrooms.

 

http://transformhawaiigov.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Cool-Strategies.png

Click to enlarge the photo. Photo: DOE Thermal Comfort Portal

 

To date, the $100 million appropriated by the Hawaii State Legislature in its capital improvement projects budget has been implemented to cool nearly 1,300 classrooms with the department’s continuing efforts to prioritize schools that need it most.

See which schools are on the current priority list at http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ConnectWithUs/Organization/SchoolFacilities/Pages/Heat-Abatement.aspx

Kalani High School team among top 10 contenders

Kalani High School sign

 

In an effort to stimulate interest in the growing cybersecurity sector, the SANS Institute launched Girls Go CyberStart, a national online competition exclusively for high school girls.

The new young women’s competition peaked interest in rudimentary cybersecurity areas such as cryptography, web attacks and digital forensics through a series of engaging puzzles and fun logic challenges.

Girls Go Cyber Start teaser challenge

A teaser challenge embedded in a QR code, this screenshot is an example of puzzles teams had to work together to solve in the competition. Photo: CyberStart US.

One hundred and eighteen local teams made up of 329 Hawaii students participated in the games in late February. Transform Hawaii Government congratulates the eight teams who advanced to the top one hundred and extends special recognition to the Kalani High School “Idalings” who placed in the top 10.

Girls Go CyberStart’s format was based on the successful CyberStart pilot project in 2017. Last year, more than 300 Hawaii participants faced off against 3,500 other students from 17 different states during CyberStart, with the Aloha State providing the largest amount of participants per capita.

Hawaii joins the nation in a shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts. While the IT sector has made progress in inclusivity, the tech labor force remains a male dominated industry.

“The nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have evidence that CyberStart improves the quality of individuals entering the cybersecurity field,” said Alan Paller, SANS director of research, in a press release. Further, the two best cyber intrusion analysts I have ever met were named Vicki and Judy, yet women are woefully underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity. By opening CyberStart to thousands of high school girls we hope to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

Earlier this month, several states celebrated Open Data Day, an observance seeking to bring awareness on the benefits of information access to both government agencies and its citizens to encourage its adaption in civil society.

Municipalities and states invested staff time along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the effort to curate and publish data for the sake of better accountability over the last decade. Large quantities of available datasets address the goals of information accessibility. However, low use of data portals provoked some governments to go a step further by making the information easy to understand for enhanced civic engagement.

Open Data Objectives | Photo: hawaiiweblog.com

Photo: hawaiiweblog.com

In this story, Government Technology takes a look at the outcomes stemming from these initiatives. Read More at http://www.govtech.com/data/Are-Open-Data-Efforts-Working.html

Net Neutrality | ETS

 

Net neutrality protects and promotes a fast, fair and open internet. It prohibits internet service providers from discriminating between content or users. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end net neutrality rules on Dec. 13, 2017.

Since the Internet does not distinguish between state boarders, individual states may be unable to directly enforce their own net neutrality laws. But that has not stopped multiple states, including Hawaii, from working to manage the effects on local levels.

An executive order signed by Gov. David Ige took effect on Feb. 5, 2018, directing all state government agencies to contract for internet-related service only with providers who contractually agree to abide by net neutrality principals.

These types of regulations could have a significant impact on many providers as state contracts tend to be large.

A recent poll showed that 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the FCC’s action to repeal net neutrality. Most recently, members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation joined their U.S. House and Senate colleagues to introduce a measure designed to overturn the FCC decision on net neutrality.

Hawaii legislators have also expressed support for maintaining net neutrality in Hawaii.  This includes House Bill 1995 that, if enacted, would aim to regulates broadband internet service providers to ensure a free and open Internet. The bill also would establish a task force to examine the costs and benefits of creating a state-owned public utility company to provide broadband internet service.

A new information network is putting the collective wisdom of public sector IT agencies within reach of their colleagues and trying to solve some of the big problems that vex government.

by Theo Douglas, Government Technology

Screenshot of Government Digital Transformation Exchange

In this GovTech story, read about a new online portal that aims to boost the innovative process and empower collaboration by creating a place for those working on technologically innovative projects for government to share experiences and best practices in a format adapted for use by all. READ FULL STORY

The Open Data Movement Is Growing
But it will take commitment by officials and demands by the public to transform government.

By Christine Sakuda

http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/the-open-data-movement-is-growing/

The data continuously collected and stored by government agencies can become a tool for dramatic positive change, but only if it’s made available to those with the ability to organize it and meaningfully package it.

Once this resource is tapped and packaged, it can be leveraged to improve the quality of life for Hawaii residents, enhance the way government functions and enable citizens to better understand how agencies and departments are operating as a result of improvements in transparency and accountability.

Michael Flowers, the Chief Analytics Officer of New York City, noted that governments have a huge fire hose of information, but a fire hose is only valuable when it’s pointed at a fire. Collecting information about traffic patterns in a file is not helpful by itself, but becomes more valuable when transportation planners use the information to redesign traffic patterns.

This was the Hawaii Tax Department’s receiving and sorting section during tax season a few years ago. The state has made some progress coming into the digital era, but much more work is needed to make public information easily accessible and meaningful.

But what really matters is not the digital file, or the traffic patterns, but the outcomes. Using traffic data in planning can cut down on commute times, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, even as it’s used to create crosswalks and bike lanes that decrease the incidents of car and truck accidents with pedestrians and cyclists. Using data intelligently can undoubtedly help us live more efficient, cleaner and safer lives.

Open data is the term used to describe making the information collected by organizations available for wider use. It is increasingly being leveraged by state government in Hawaii for the benefit of everyone interacting with government and using the services it provides, from transportation to camping in state parks to monitoring criminal activity near homes and workplaces.

The Honolulu Police Department’s crime map provides a good example of how information can be gathered, organized and put into a graphical presentation to help individual citizens become more aware of risks to their property and personal safety.

The department has taken data on various types of crimes and plotted the incidence of each criminal activity on an interactive crime map, where members of the public can enter a street address, zip code or landmark and see icons representing the crimes that have occurred in the vicinity of any location.

Open data can be especially useful when several agencies are working on the same issue. Too often, government agencies operate in silos. The challenges this creates are exemplified in collaborative planning on issues, like homelessness.

In many states and cities, officials from a variety of agencies interact with the homeless, collecting data about their situations and needs. All too often, these workers are not able to enter that information into a single database as they collect it. Instead, individual outreach workers keep their own files in systems that are not interconnected, as a rule.

A state system that many are familiar with but may not think of as an open-data operation is the Campaign Spending Commission reporting system, which provides transparency into Hawaii political campaigns. The site aggregates data on candidate contributions and expenditures, as well as making public the political donations to and expenditures by campaign organizations. The commission website gives the public access to a database that reveals who is contributing to each candidate.

Since every agency collects and maintains data, open data initiatives can be implemented to provide transparency and accountability by tracking the progress or lack of progress on government activities, from road maintenance and the rail project to education outcomes and reporting on pesticide usage.

The state maintains a website of public dashboards, Open Performance Hawaii, which provides a snapshot of how the administration and state agencies are performing. The site also provides access to data sets behind the dashboards for developers interested in developing apps and additional dashboards.

The State of Hawaii Dashboard on the Open Performance Hawaii website is a necessary step towards providing the public with information that facilitates transparency and knowledge. Unfortunately, most data on the State of Hawaii Dashboard is three to four years old, with original metrics not being updated and goals not clearly stated, making it difficult to gauge an agency’s progress.

According to its own dashboard, the state did not reach its open and transparent data targets and needs to commit more resources and work harder at both providing timely data and public dashboards in order to be truly useful and meet the open and transparent goals it espouses and that the public demands.

This is a beginning that needs to be further developed to provide a comprehensive look at progress in a range of areas.

Open data can address many challenges here in Hawaii, but it will take commitment by elected officials, public sector employees and public demand to transform the way government operates.

About the Author:
Christine Sakuda is the executive director of Transform Hawaii Government, a nonprofit organization focused on modernizing the state government’s aging IT infrastructure.

 

With cybersecurity threats now emerging as a household worry, state government has been opening eyes to the nagging problems stemming from attacks.

 

Multiple workshops throughout October have been devoted to alerting the public to the menacing ways of cyberattacks. Examples include cyberattacks taking down internet service for the U.S. mainland’s East Coast and becoming a scourge to various businesses across the nation.

 

Drawing statewide attention to these and other familiar threats has been a key focus of “Cyber Security Awareness Month,” which was proclaimed in early October by Gov. David Y. Ige.

 

Hour-long cyber safety sessions at public libraries and shopping centers have focused on a wide range of topics, including malware protection, passwords and wi-fi usage. Among other topics were online shopping, banking, scams, phishing, data backup and social media.

 

“Educating our community about cyber security issues and how to protect themselves in our technology-driven world is vital,” said State Librarian Stacey Aldrich. “The Hawaii Public Library System is happy to be a part of this important learning opportunity.”

 

Others that have been raising awareness about cyber safety throughout the month include the Hawaii Department of Defense Office of Homeland Security and local nonprofit Cyber Hui.

 

For cyber safety tips and other resources, visit the state Office of Homeland Security’s newly launched Cyber Awareness website (ohs.hawaii.gov/cyber).

Photo Credit: Viridian Weapon Technologies

 

A small police department in Minneapolis is adding an increasingly popular transparency tool to its ability to protect and serve the public.

 

The West Hennepin Public Safety Department, based in the Minneapolis suburb of Independence — a city with a population of about 3,500 — will soon be among the first in the country to test gun-mounted cameras on its 10 officers.

 

But don’t expect to see this high-tech solution in Hawaii any time soon. “The Honolulu Police Department has no plans to adopt gun-mounted cameras,” said Michelle Yu, spokesperson for the department.

 

In Minneapolis, the police department’s decision to experiment with body-worn cameras comes with the risks associated with being an early adopter as it expects to soon begin testing the cameras, which mount on firearm rails.

 

The gun-mounted cameras are advertised as lightweight — they’re about 3 ounces — and cheaper than body cameras. Their cost is projected to be about $500 per unit for five years of use by an officer, compared to an approximate $3,000 projection for a body camera within the same time period.

 

The technology is also being touted as a means of circumventing one of the biggest technical challenges surrounding body-worn cameras, which create data management issues by constantly racking up thousands of hours of footage that is subject to public data requests, and requires departments to procure specialized redaction software and data storage.

 

Another key benefit of gun-mounted cameras is that they’re not as likely to have their view blocked by an officer’s arms or other obstacles, though this and other functionality is expected to be proven out in the department’s testing. The department is expected to test a variety of scenarios, including low-light, no-light, bright light, and cold weather.

 

In a potentially significant step, the top executive at Transform Hawaii Government has a major new platform to get key messages across for her non-profit organization.

 

Christine Sakuda, who has been at the helm of Transform Hawaii Government since May, will be contributing periodic columns to the “Community Voices” section of the Honolulu Civil Beat.

 

Her columns will appear about five times a year and focus on ensuring that Hawaii officials are embracing the digital age with a renewed sense of urgency.

 

Hawaii is at least 20 years behind other states in its business process and information technology (IT) capabilities. Current systems were designed at a time when the personal computer was a new invention and have outlived their usefulness and life cycles.

 

Among the expected topics for the column will be to call on the state government for a commitment to consistently make the investment necessary for it to better engage citizens and businesses in this technology-driven world. That number comes out to at least 1 percent of the state’s annual budget over the next 10 years, which is about 2 percentage points below the investment other states typically make in their IT systems.

 

“Happy you guys want to contribute to Civil Beat,” said Editor Patti Epler. “I think it would be great to have Community Voices on this topic.”

 

The column will be the latest communications channel for Transform Hawaii Government. Others include Facebook, website and a newsletter.

 

The column will be written at a time when the state is taking steps to modernize its aging IT infrastructure. Examples include going paperless, consolidating nine different email systems for state employees and modernizing payroll and tax technologies in state government.

 

From Transform Hawaii Government’s perspective, all would be innovative solutions that could transform the way state government does business.