HACC community partners take a photo with Gov. David Ige. Photo courtesy of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services.

Earlier this month, CIO Todd Nacapuy accepted StateScoop.com’s State IT Innovation award on behalf of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC). StateScoop annually honors outstanding state innovators, up-and-coming leaders as well as tech-based projects used to make the delivery of services more convenient to residents.

“As a proud sponsor of the 2017 Hawaii Annual Code Challenge, Transform Hawaii Government congratulates CIO Todd Nacapuy and his community co-partner Hawaii Open Data, for putting on the successful and innovative event, which provided the tech-minded development community with the opportunity to test their skills at coming up with creative solutions to government challenges,” said Christine Sakuda, THG executive director. “As a nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting an open, transparent and responsive government, we recognize the ‘HACC’ as an outstanding example of how the state can engage the community in a meaningful way to streamline, integrate and deliver state services to meet and exceed the expectations of the public and Hawaii’s businesses, while helping to build Hawaii’s IT workforce.”

The State IT Innovation of the Year award recognizes win-win state government programs which bridge their constituent’s experience and makes efficient use of data integration for agencies. Hawaii’s hackathon joins notable programs from other states including Georgia Gateway, an integrated multi-program portal for human services; Utah’s Practice Driver License Program, an app to help drivers study for their driver’s license using smartphones and smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home; and Mississippi’s state chatbot called MISSI which uses machine learning to connect inquiries to the proper services. See all winners here.

With more than 300 participants in its sophomore year, the HACC brought together Hawaii’s programming community, state departments and the local tech industry to solve real-world information challenges provided by participating agencies. The month-long competition fostered mentoring for burgeoning coders and created proof of concepts for an app used to navigate within UH Manoa, a grant data visualizer for OHA, and enabling natural language searchability and interpretation of Hawaii’s laws.

The HACC was possible through the collaboration between the State of Hawaii and participating community partners such as Hawaii Open Data, DevLeague, and THG.

Hawaii’s remote geographic location and limited talent pool – while nothing new – have compounded a decades-long hiring challenge for state government. After a highly successful pilot project initiated in 2016, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) continues its innovative use of the professional social networking site LinkedIn as a tool for attracting top talent.

Besides using the world’s largest social networking platform for business professionals, ETS also changed its paradigm to revamp its employee culture. View this video case study to discover how the agency leveraged LinkedIn to meet and surpass its hiring goals.

For more information, read LinkedIn’s Talent Blog: 4 Ways the Government of Hawaii Modernized its Hiring Process to Attract Tech Talent.

Featured in THG’s January newsletter, the Hawaii Department Dashboard now has a new, more user-friendly look. A first of its kind in the nation, the dashboard tracks more than 400 IT projects across State of Hawaii departments and agencies that account for nearly half a billion dollars in annual IT spend, according to the Office of Enterprise Technology Services.

 

The dashboard is accessible to the public and can be found at The Hawaii Department Dashboard or by visiting ets.hawaii.gov and scrolling to the bottom of the webpage.

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.