Three Amigos 2

DLIR’s Three Amigos: Jodie Nakamura, Ryan Mercado and Liam Tobin. Photo courtesy of DLIR.

For lives affected by a workplace injury, time is of the essence to resolve bottlenecks in the historically manual, paper-intensive claims process. Three employees of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Disability Compensation Division (DCD) are making progress in enhancing efficiency and in improving the experiences of their end customer which includes employers, insurance carriers and workers injured on the job.

Jodie Nakamura, Ryan Mercado and Liam Tobin — or the “Three Amigos,” as they are known in the division — began the scanning project and helped train their division in utilizing optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

Though scanning paperwork is not groundbreaking on its own, digitization efforts for an organization like the division resulted in both efficiency and in improving the experiences of their end customer. The department maintains a staggering 40,000 active case files and processes more than 22,000 new workers’ compensation claims per year.

Paper work

Thousands of files have been digitized at the state’s disability compensation program. However, they need hardware with capacity for more storage to continue progress.

As a result of the project, the department as a whole was able to cut its clienteles’ hearing wait time in half.

In 2015, the division hired consulting firm Gartner Group to analyze its business procedures.

Gartner’s Disability Compensation Business Process Optimization report identified efficiency issues, bottlenecks, outdated procedures and data sharing challenges. The report also outlined a roadmap to execute the recommended business process changes.

Since then, clear progress was achieved by the Three Amigos; however, due to storage constraints from older technology, the project will be limited until new hardware with additional storage capacity is installed.

“We have worked collaboratively with the Legislature to modernize the Division’s business processes and technology infrastructure,” said DLIR Director Leonard Hoshijo. Still, the state is striving to make government more effective and efficient for our customers, which in this case includes employers, insurance carriers and workers injured on the job.

In 2017, the state Legislature appropriated additional funding to expand the division’s electronic intake of claims and data migration to new hardware. This year, the DLIR is set to post a Request for Proposal to hire a contractor to complete a new Case Management System and will request additional funding for the fiscal year 2019 to complete the work.

As for the “Three Amigos,” all continue to work for the state and have advanced in their division.

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.

You Are Invited. Again!

THG is proud to partner with Hawaii Open Data in presenting Open Data Day 2018! The public is invited to join open data advocates and users to catch up on recent initiatives happening around Hawaii and beyond.

Invited speakers include R. Brian Black, president and executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, as well as representatives of the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; the Office of Planning’s Statewide GIS Program; and the Campaign Spending Commission.

Seating is limited to about 30 people so sign up early. To reserve your seat, sign up here.

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

Hawaii’s tech minds take on food traceability, ag-crimes, and farmer training language barriers

AGathon group photo

Team Harvest Vision took first place at Hawaii’s premier AGathon on Sunday, Jan .14. Photo courtesy of Facebook: Sen. Mike Gabbard

After an intense two weeks of planning and coding, Hawaii technology innovators on Jan. 14 filled Impact Hub Honolulu – laptops in hand. Each teams’ representatives were poised to pitch thoughtfully crafted concepts, some already in the proofs-of-concept stage, to a panel of judges convened for the AGathon, Hawaii’s first agriculture-tech hackathon.

The AGathon was held to bring the burgeoning world of digital innovation into the age-old practice of local food production to address problems confronting Hawaii today. The event kickedoff on Jan. 6 at the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center in Waipahu, followed by an all-day hackathon Jan. 13 and “Demo Day and Awards” on Jan. 14 at Impact Hub Honolulu.

Presented by Hawaii Open Data and the state’s Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, Transform Hawaii Government was proud to support the inaugural event, along with co-sponsors Elemental Excelerator, Ulupono Initiative, and Whitmore Economic Development Group.

As intended, the AGathon successfully sparked the development of concepts for making information easily digestible and diverging from long paper-based manuals; ultimately, so farmers are able to spend more of their time growing crops, minimizinf food waste and contributing to meeting Hawaii’s local sustainable food needs.

Food Traceability Pitch

Luisa Castro, DoA Food Safety Program Manager, delivers her food traceability challenge to programmers during the kickoff event on Jan. 6, 2018.

Additional benefits are the opportunities this presents for improving interaction between farmers and government agencies as well as how those agencies manage data. With increasing compliance regulations, lack of timely and easily interpretable data hampers the efforts of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (DoA) and its partners in propelling the industry toward effective data-driven decision-making and outreach. Even while some areas are rife with aggregated data due to years of information collection, making sense of the broader situation remains a cumbersome challenge without responsive and dynamic analysis tools. Other barriers include remote locations, lack of internet connectivity, as well as potential language barriers from laborers add complexity to the agency’s technological needs.

First place team Harvest Vision impressed judges with a demo of their artificial intelligence software using a camera to recognize ripe coffee berries. As noted in a recent story in Pacific Business News, Harvest Vision received interest from local coffee producer Kauai Coffee Company, which is looking to implement the technology in 2018.

Harvest Vision PC Christopher Nguyen

First place winner Harvest Vision’s concept employs an API that uses machine learning to support harvest operations. Photo courtesy of Devpost, Christopher Nguyen.

Congratulations to Harvest Vision and the other inaugural AGathon winners:

  • First Place: Harvest Vision – an application programming interface (API) that uses machine learning to harvest coffee efficiently.
  • Second Place: Farm Safe – an app designed to explain farming and safety practices to non-English-speaking farmers in their native language.
  • Third Place: Follow the ‘Aina – a solution used for food traceability.


IT Roadmap

The state recently unveiled its IT Roadmap online dashboard. Image Courtesy of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services

One of the most significant milestones of 2017 in the areas of state IT governance and budget transparency was the unveiling of the statewide IT Roadmap. Located on the Office of Enterprise Technology Services’ (ETS) website (, the online resource was developed through extensive coordination with various departments and agencies within the state executive branch with the goal of creating a more accessible, cohesive and transparent dashboard for state and public use.

The statewide IT Roadmap was developed in accordance with section 27-43, Hawaii Revised Statutes, which requires state departments to create and maintain multi-year IT strategic plans and roadmaps. It serves as part of ongoing efforts by ETS’ IT Governance team to improve the state’s IT governance processes.

ETS anticipates that the implementation of the IT Roadmap will serve as a valuable tool for the overall long-term development, financial planning and execution of all significant IT activities within the executive branch. In addition, it will facilitate efforts to deploy appropriate resources efficiently in support of current large enterprise projects, such as the tax system and payroll modernization initiatives. For the public, the roadmap serves as a valuable tool for monitoring state projects, ongoing developments, budgets and schedules.

To learn more about and track current state IT projects, explore the IT Roadmap online dashboard at under the Department Dashboard section.

Hawaii State Public Library

The Hawaii State Library located in Downtown Honolulu. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Hawaii State Library System recently was awarded the distinguished Silver W3 award in its class, outshining more than 5,000 candidates for its innovation, user-friendly design and creativity.

Developed in partnership with Hawaii Information Consortium LLC, the award-winning website has set the bar for library websites around the country. The State Library site features personal stories and experiences, as well as the positive impact the library has had on people’s lives.

HI State Libraries website

Visit the Hawaii State Library System homepage at

Additionally, the website promotes a variety of services and community events, offers its digital visitors the opportunity to connect with staff via the “Ask a Librarian” feature, and provides book recommendations from staff and study tools for youth and students. The website is also mobile device-friendly for people on the go and contains links to state and federal resources.

To experience the award-winning website for yourself, visit the Hawaii State Library System at and share your own story.

By Christine Sakuda, THG Executive Director

False Missle Alert : Reuters Hugh Gentry

A combination photograph shows screenshots from a cell phone displaying an alert for a ballistic missile launch and the subsequent false alarm message in Hawaii, Jan. 13, 2018. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry


I was getting breakfast ready for my family on the morning of Jan. 13 when I received the emergency text alert, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

By the time the official “false alarm” text was issued 38 minutes later, I had already made calls to other family members throughout Hawaii, extended “I love you(s),” and exchanged hugs with those whom we were with. Alerts also came in from my children’s schools over the rapidly unfolding situation as individuals and agencies alike sought clarity and definitive confirmation of an “all clear.”

Looking back, that Saturday’s mishap and the events that followed were keen reminders of the importance of the “people process” in any system, regardless of technological platform or application. While we may have technology at our fingertips, it is the human interaction with technology that can be the weak link.  Modernization of outdated systems includes people’s adaptation of meaningful processes that takes advantage of  technology.  This requires constant vigilance to keep pace with technology’s rapid evolution. Developing people processes to adapt and manage technology in a meaningful way is often the greatest challenge to any modernization effort.

Recognizing that our state can do better, the governor has directed Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, deputy adjutant general of the Hawaii Department of Defense, to review the current emergency response system. This will include notifications and warnings, as well as recommendations for improvement. An initial action plan will be provided no later than Feb. 13, with a final report no later than March 15.

Looking further ahead, it is encouraging that last summer Hawaii was one of the first states in the nation to opt-in to FirstNet, a first-responder network that, once built, will use advanced technologies to enable fire, police, EMS, emergency management and other public safety personnel to communicate and share information. FirstNet, or First Responder Network Authority, is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce, authorized by Congress in 2012 to develop, build and operate the nationwide network. Although opting in was only the first step, and the network – which now includes 56 territories and states – remains to be developed and launched, FirstNet represents the next evolution in modern emergency notifications.

“As is frequently noted by those most experienced with modernizing systems, updating the technology is the often-easy part, but updating processes can simultaneous present both the greatest risks and greatest opportunities.”

In the meantime, like many others I look forward to a clear-headed and thoughtful analysis of what happened on Jan. 13 and recommendations on where current processes and technology can be improved. It is our hope lessons will be learned about the importance of not only testing but questioning the testing processes as government strives to keep pace with technology and the new ways citizens obtain their information in the digital age. As is frequently noted by those most experienced with modernizing systems, updating the technology is the often-easy part, but updating processes can simultaneous present both the greatest risks and greatest opportunities.

Original story here:

By: Anna Hrushka

Hawaii’s first agriculture hackathon wrapped up over the weekend, with a local coffee grower planning to implement the technology developed by the competition’s first place finishers.

Kauai Coffee Company General Manager Fred Cowell said he plans to use Harvest Vision’s artificial intelligence camera in its fall harvest this year.

The device, which earned the team a $3,000 first place price, gives immediate harvest data to operators in the field, and was developed through the combined talent of Oceanit Labs, Kauai Coffee and Kamehameha Schools.

Cowell said he anticipates the system would increase coffee fruit recovery with an added value of nearly $250,000 per year.

A total of 10 teams participated in the week-long competition, which kicked off after the Department of Agriculture provided participants with a list of prompts or areas in need of solutions.

A digital app for non-English speaking farmers placed second, and an online data tool that allows farmers to input information and trace problems to an exact source took third.

“Events like this prove that in a short period of time, through bringing people together, we can create solutions,” said Robbie Melton, CEO of the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, which hosted the event.

Melton said next year she would like to extend the competition’s timeframe, giving participants a longer period to develop their projects.

Sponsors for the event were the State of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture, HTDC, Ulupono Initiative, the Transform Hawaii Government Coalition, Smart Yields, Whitmore Economic Development Group and Hawaii Open Data.

“It’s critically important for us to support these types of events,” said Transform Hawaii Government Executive Director Christine Sakuda, who also judged the competition. “We are always advocates of finding real world applications to help solve some of the state’s challenges.”

When we think of data sharing we often don’t see the faces of those who immediately benefit from these efforts. For many students in Mississippi’s public-school system, state departments using data wisely could be the difference between passing and failing.

Those of us who have attempted to work or learn on an empty stomach know it makes everything more difficult. This is supported by countless studies published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which have shown a direct correlation between academic success and nutritional health. For this reason, states are federally required to implement a free or reduced-cost meal program in public schools to assure that, at a minimum, 95 percent of youth from lower socio-economic circumstances have the nutrition they need to remain focused and engaged throughout the school day.

School lunch

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

According to a recent article in Government Technology (“Interagency Data Sharing Agreement Helps Mississippi Feed Its Schoolchildren,” Government Technology, July 25, 2017), between 20 and 30 percent of students in Mississippi’s public school system who qualified for subsidized meals had not registered in a school meals program and were going entire school days without a meal, despite the fact that Mississippi has a free or reduced-cost meals program in place. As a result of the deficiency, the federal government cited the state for falling short of the mandate requiring 95 percent of eligible students to be enrolled in the subsidized meal program.

In order to address this issue, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) decided to explore a new approach. Through an interagency agreement, the MDE collaborated with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to electronically match MDE student social security information, provided during school registration, with social security information provided to DHS for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. As a result, MDE found there were numerous students eligible for SNAP benefits who were not receiving subsidized lunches.

By sharing this information, the MDE was able to identify the students that qualified for free lunches and enroll them in the program.

The department demonstrated a significant example of the benefits of data sharing among state agencies. The MDE now meets the federal mandate, serving well over 90 percent of eligible students and has avoided the need for students to provide additional documentation. Most importantly, many at-risk children now receive the nutrition they need to learn and join their classmates at lunch free from the stigma of signing up for subsidized meals and are better able to reach their academic potential.