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.

In the latest example of Hawaii’s efforts to embrace smart technologies, the state government is working with a leading customer relationship management (CRM) company to strengthen the overall experience of its online sites and services.


Among the first sites developed in-house by the state on the Salesforce platform was the Hawaii Agriculture & Food Products Database, unveiled by the state Department of Agriculture (DOA) during the Hawaii Agriculture Conference in August.

With the goal of improving its IT modernization efforts, the database provides more comprehensive access farmers and ranchers in Hawaii. It also aims to connect the world to the manufacturers that add value to Hawaii-grown products to create goods that showcase Hawaii agriculture.

“The Salesforce platform was selected after ETS evaluated several of the industry’s top CRM platforms,” said Todd Nacapuy, state chief information officer. “While this does not preclude departments and agencies from procuring alternatives, our intention is to focus development of state employee skillsets. In the interest of transparency, this also communicates to all IT service providers an area of opportunity, that the state will likely require services relating to the platform in the future.”

The site was developed collaboratively by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services. The site concept was primarily based on solutions identified at the 2016 Hawaii Annual Code Challenge.

Other smart technologies from last year’s code challenge are being developed for the CRM platform and scheduled for launch this year.

In addition, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services will be conducting an evaluation of existing sites and apps that could use an “upgrade” by relaunching them on the platform.  The evaluation is expected to be concluded by Dec. 1.

The CRM tool was approved by the IT Steering Committee, which assists the state CIO in developing IT standards and policies.

Based on the hackathon concept, the government-sponsored Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) will bring together students, entrepreneurs, and tech-based professionals to team up and compete in presenting solutions for challenges facing state government. The month-long competition gives teams time to develop and present concepts, win awards, and potentially see their innovations implemented by state agencies.


Those interested are encouraged to attend the HACC kickoff event on August 26. At the kickoff, executive department representatives will present operational issues they face, with the goal of finding apps or digital ways to solve them. Teams will then have one month to collaborate and build software solutions.


Participants form teams prior to or at the kickoff event and are encouraged to recruit colleagues and friends to join the competition. When deciding on who to include in your team, consider these tips to help make your hackathon experience a success:


  1. Lean on people you know, regardless of experience level. Since a month of brainstorming, developing, testing, and refining your solution can be exhausting, be sure to form a team with professionals and peers you can count on to contribute. Need to expand your circle? Try recruiting team members through online community boards or groups you participate in.


  1. Look for variety. As with any tech project, a strong team should consist of a variety of experts. Your team mix may include coders, designers, a project manager, a marketing professional, or other disciplines. Try to keep the group sized between four to six members that represent several areas of expertise, including government experience.


  1. Know the details. Be sure to attend the kickoff event to hear the issues, rules, and judging criteria first-hand, decide which challenge you would like to address in your solution, and network with other participants and government officials.


The HACC kickoff event takes place on Saturday, August 26, at the East-West Center, Keoni Auditorium, on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. The judging and awards event will take place at the same location on September 23. Doors will open at 9:00 a.m. for both events.


Now in its second year, the annual HACC was launched by Gov. David Ige in conjunction with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS). Last year, more than 200 community members participated in the HACC, and the top solutions addressed issues as diverse as homelessness and prison visitation.


Solutions generated at the HAAC have the potential to improve government services by expediting data processing and coordination efforts to benefit Hawaii residents. In addition, as a hackathon-inspired event, the HACC benefits the community by providing an opportunity for citizens to participate in collaborative app development, entrepreneurial skill building, and tech community progress.


For more information and to enter, visit hacc.hawaii.gov

Working in conjunction with the State Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), Gov. David Ige will kick off the return of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) on Saturday, August 26, at the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.

The annual government-sponsored hackathon encourages State of Hawaii departments and community members to collaborate in solving pressing day-to-day administrative challenges at government offices. Solutions generated at the HACC have the potential to improve government services by expediting data processing and coordination efforts to benefit the people of Hawaii.

At the August kickoff event, departments will present their hurdles to participating coding teams. Developers will then be given one month to engineer applications addressing the specific government-service needs of the state government department they choose to assist. The competition culminates with presentations from finalists on September 23.

Besides providing solutions benefitting government and citizens, hackathons such as the HACC play an important role in developing tech talent statewide. The HACC brings together multidisciplinary experience in app development, as well as entrepreneurial skill building, as teams market customized concepts to a potential client: state government.

Students, independent organizations and professionals are invited to compete in the next HACC. For more information and to enter, visit hacc.hawaii.gov.

If coding isn’t your expertise but you want to get involved, here are three ways to help:

Pitch in. If you have marketing expertise and a talent for creating compelling presentations, consider helping with the final component of the competition. Advancing teams will have an opportunity to present their concepts to Governor Ige and other distinguished government representatives, allowing them to see the apps in action. You could help with team pitches.

Instahelp. Take just two minutes of your time to help spread word about the HACC by connecting others to the cause. Share this link with your social media followers: http://hacc.hawaii.gov/

Become a corporate sponsor. Support the HACC’s mission of cultivating Hawaii’s tech talent. Contact Burt Lum of event partner Hawaii Open Data at bytemarks@gmail.com for more information.

Want to know more about previous solutions presented in the HACC? Click on these links to view presentations from HACC 2016 winners addressing homelessness, O‘ahu Community Correctional Center visitations, and support of locally grown or produced Hawai‘i products.

DevLeague – the only accelerated-learning boot camp for aspiring coders in Hawaii – is expanding its curriculum offerings from one offering to four to address the increase in market demand for IT-related jobs. DevLeague identified these new offerings (or tracks) due, in part, to the state of Hawaii’s growing needs in these “hot market” arenas.

To support the growth of a diverse, technologically savvy workforce, each track has a specific focus: Enterprise Software, Big Data, and Cyber Security.

The Enterprise Software Development track emphasizes training individuals in building critical infrastructure with a focus on utilizing cloud storage and computing. The course will teach the newest technology being introduced into the enterprise landscape.

The Big Data track is designed to leverage information that is collected and stored every day. Through analysis and database design, students are educated on how to track, monitor, predict and gain intelligence that can enhance how businesses serve people and communities.

The last of the three new tracks focuses on a subject of increasing importance in our technology filled world: Cyber Security. With the State of Hawaii continuing to bolster its efforts to combat cyber attacks, the additional Cyber Security track will help boot-camp coders better protect Hawaii IT systems as future members of a well-trained, knowledgeable workforce.

All of these new tracks are offered in addition to the current track of Web Engineering, which teaches students about web development in the programming language JavaScript.

Now in its fourth year, DevLeague reports that 86 percent of the students in its programs find a job in Hawaii after graduating. Given its track record for training and placing talent and the knowledge transfer from its courses to Hawaii’s digital workforce, it appears DevLeague will be an increasingly important part of the local IT ecosystem.

For more information, visit their website.

As a growing organization, Transform Hawai‘i Government is proud to announce the appointment of Christine Sakuda as the organization’s first executive director. THG is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded to support the transformation of the way state government conducts business, including moving from paper-based to digital systems to increase efficiency, security and transparency.

“When Transform Hawai‘i Government was started, we knew it would have to outlast any political administration to make a difference and that’s why it had to be community based and driven,” said Micah Kāne, chair of the Board of Directors for Transform Hawai‘i Government. “We are excited to bring on Christine Sakuda as executive director to really steer the organization to make the greatest impact possible in transforming the government and engaging the community.”

Previously housed as an initiative at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, THG was established as an independent nonprofit in 2016. Its mission is to build support for the transformation by educating the public, soliciting input from the community to help shape the outcome, and holding the state of Hawai‘i government accountable in making progress.

“I’m honored to be chosen as the first executive director of the Transform Hawai‘i Government coalition. Since 2013, this coalition has grown, engaged community leaders, and demonstrated support to advance an effective and efficient state government for all citizens,” stated Christine Sakuda. “I look forward to collaborating with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services and other departments to help our state government transform.”

Sakuda comes to THG from the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange (HHIE), where she started as a board member, served as interim executive director, and eventually became its executive director in 2009. She is credited with building the organization from the ground up.

At HHIE, Sakuda devoted much of her time to transforming health care and the way it is delivered. HHIE was designated by the State of Hawai‘i to be the sole statewide health information exchange, and today, most of Hawai‘i’s major healthcare organizations and hundreds of Hawai‘i physicians are connected to HHIE.

Prior to her work at HHIE, Sakuda was the information officer and telehealth director at the Hawai‘i Primary Care Association where she directed the development and implementation of health information technology initiatives at Hawai‘i’s federally qualified community health centers. She was also the principal investigator for the Holomua Project, a health information exchange pilot program that went live in 2009.

Sakuda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and Japanese at Santa Clara University and received an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa College of Business Administration.

THG-Supported Bills that Passed

Now that Legislative Session is over, the governor has until July 11th to pass, veto, or let bills become law without his signature. To request Governor Ige enact these bills below, please click here.

HB425 HD1 SD3 CD1, Relating to Technology Transfer at the University of Hawaii

One critical phase of innovation in our state is the ability to commercialize research ideas generated at the University of Hawaii. This phase, often known as “technology transfer,” is designed to strengthen our local economy by getting the new ideas, inventions and processes developed in universities to the private sector as quickly as possible. Technology transfer plays a vital role in UH’s ability to support its faculty and student researchers in these activities.

Currently, certain requirements of the State Ethics Code, if too stringently applied, inhibit the efficient and effective commercialization of research generated at UH. Accordingly, the bill makes specific sections of the Code of Ethics inapplicable to technology transfer activities sponsored by the University of Hawaii, if the activities comply with the regulatory framework and research compliance program approved by the Board of Regents.

HB607 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Kupuna Care

Family caregivers are central players in Hawaii’s long-term care and health systems. Caregivers play an invaluable role by providing vital services and care for a rapidly growing elderly population. Because of the significant roles and responsibilities of caregivers in helping others, as well as the demands placed on them, this measure was passed to provide caregivers respite from the demands of caregiving and give them the necessary supports and services to sustain their own health.

The bill achieves these objectives by establishing the Kupuna Caregivers Program through the Executive Office on Aging and appropriates funds for the establishment and implementation of the Kupuna Caregivers Program.

HB627 HD2 SD2 CD1, Relating to Public-Private Partnerships

By leveraging synergies between the public and private sectors, public-private partnerships can improve the quality of life for Hawaii residents by defraying costs and expanding and improving government services beyond those currently available. Public-private partnerships have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of state operations. This legislation authorizes DBEDT to establish a permanent private-public partnership coordinator position to develop and analyze plans for future public-private partnership projects, including the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium.

SB850 HD2 CD1, Relating to Information Technology

Because technology projects often involve substantial risk and expense, requiring independent verification and validation for certain projects contributes to the success of state modernization initiatives. The Chief Information Officer is expected to take a proactive approach in ensuring the successful development and implementation of technology projects and is, therefore, responsible for identifying the technology projects that should be subject to independent verification and validation.

SB722 SD1 HD1 CD1, Relating to Efficiency Measures

Because current projections of state general fund revenues show an increasingly weak economy, more scrutiny will be required to better control appropriations. More robust efficiency measures, such as leveraging of data resources, can enhance the level of scrutiny and help the legislature make difficult budget decisions to improve and continue important programs on a sustainable basis.

At present, state budget documents do not include efficiency measures tied to appropriation requests. The legislature is therefore restarting the efficiency measures pilot project, with clearer expectations and objectives to produce better data and a clearer determination of the benefits, appropriateness, and value of efficiency measures in budgetary planning. 

THG-Supported Bills that Remain Alive for the 2018 Legislative Session

While the 2017 Legislative session is over, we look forward to your support for the following measures next session to continue laying the foundation for more transparent, efficient and accessible state government.

HB1329 HD1, Relating to Technology Development

Teams participating in the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) have produced applications with significant potential for government operations and also have the potential to be commercialized. The HACC provides a unique opportunity for the tech and startup community to collaborate with state government to develop innovative solutions to some of the pressing operational and social challenges facing Hawaii. This legislation passed the House and Senate subject matter committees but did not pass out of conference committee.

HB1481 HD1, Relating to Economic Development

This measure would have created a working group to gather input from departments and agencies to examine how blockchain technology could improve their business processes. Blockchain uses include cybersecurity, disaster recovery, clearance and settlement, supply chain transparency, title registries, communications, and document verification.

This technology holds significant potential to drastically change and improve public sector operations and private industry capabilities. This bill passed the House and the Economic Development, Tourism and Technology [ETT] Committee in the Senate but was not heard by the Ways and Means [WAM] Committee.

SB312 SD1, Relating to Open Government

This legislation requires that the public have electronic access to the materials members of state boards and commissions receive that provide board members with background on the items appearing on their meeting agendas. After passing out of the Senate and passing First Reading in the House, it was referred to the Judiciary (JUD) Committee, where it did not receive a hearing.

HB918 HD1 SD 1, Relating to Intervention

This measure proposes the development of an electronic system to track and monitor the progress of early intervention services for infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or are at biological risk for developmental delays. It passed all subject matter committees in the House and Senate and was discussed in conference committee but was not passed out for a floor vote.


Aerial footage used to locate homeless encampments, map historical sites, and monitor flood impacts

In moving towards a more effective, efficient, and open government, Hawaii took another step on the path to modernization with the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS), better known as drones, by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

“Numerous DLNR divisions have been discussing the use of drones for mapping and resource protection purposes for a number of years,” said Dan Dennison, senior communications manager of DLNR. 

Most recently, DLNR used drone photography in a joint effort with the Governor’s Office on Homelessness to address illegal encampments on the steep slopes of Diamond Head. Read the article from Civil Beat on this effort here.

Mapping homeless encampments along Diamond Head:

Why drones? According to Curt Cottrell, administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks, “The initial reason was the terrain on the flank of Diamond Head has extremely rough topography and is complicated by a labyrinth of trails through grass and kiawe.

For the encampments there, we were doing ground surveillance and documentation. It was getting very hard to keep track of these camps, so we determined aerial mapping of them would save a lot of time and energy.”

To determine the flight path for its drone, DLNR uses GPS coordinates of trails and flat spots created by several years of foot traffic. A broad sweep in March removed 90 cubic yards of discarded possessions and resulted in several citations to illegal campers. To keep this closed-area free of illegal sites, they fly the drone on once-a-week flights to monitor the area for illegal campers. Formerly, the search process required several hours by a DLNR employee hiking through these areas.

Precise mapping helps enforcement officers, as well as homeless outreach workers, to locate and provide resources to people, without requiring the assistance of a DLNR guide. Contractors bidding on jobs to remove debris also benefit from the information collected by the drone to determine the scope of work, which enables them to make more accurate bids.

Future application of drones

(DLNR’s drone takes flight for its weekly flyover of Diamond Head State Park. Photo courtesy of Department of Land and Natural Resources.)

Drone usage for mapping illegal encampments is currently limited to Diamond Head because the aerial technology is ideal for the rough topography. Many other camps elsewhere around the state are located in flat areas reachable by motor vehicles.

State Homeless Coordinator Scott Morishige said, “Drones were not and will not be used to surveil people experiencing homelessness. Trust is a key factor in establishing relationships with these folks, and we build trust through experienced outreach workers who connect with individuals.”

“In the end, it’s the ability of outreach workers to build trust with people in order to connect them to the right services,” Morishige noted.

According to Parks Administrator Cottrell, plans for drone usage are evolving. Other potential uses include flyovers to conduct archaeological mapping of historic sites, surveys of trail conditions, as well as monitoring stream heights in flash flood prone areas.

In instances of weather-induced damage, footage from a drone’s vantage point will provide better analytical perspective on the scope of impact on the landscape at large.

While drones have been popular in the recreational market for years, this initiative by DLNR opens the door to more efficient and safer ways to deploy state personnel and other resources, along with more effective ways to solve issues facing state agencies.

**Please note that a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified state employee operates the DLNR State Park’s drone. For public safety reasons, other drones or flying objects are not allowed to operate in Hawaii State Parks without a permit.**