In this episode of Transform Hawaii Government's (THG) Digital Talk Story series, Executive Director Christine Sakuda speaks with Senator Glenn Wakai about the importance of infrastructure in supporting our new daily needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for broadband improvements, and the role of government in ensuring the community has access to its services.
Senator Glenn Wakai is in his second term as a Hawaii State Senator, following eight years in the State House of Representatives. He currently serves as the chair of the Senate's Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology, and represents Senate District 15.
Senator Wakai stated that the public has gone from "in line" to "online" when talking about the effect COVID-19 has had on the delivery of government services. Two major areas of our lives that moved into the digital sphere are education and healthcare, which we had to adapt to quickly at the start of the pandemic. Senator Wakai believes that the increased utilization of technology has made aspects of our lives easier and more efficient but acknowledged that at the same time, this change depersonalized some experiences.
When asked about the biggest hurdle to modernizing government services, Senator Wakai shared his thoughts on the need for infrastructure upgrades related to broadband. On the federal level, infrastructure bills are now including specific money for broadband as it has become a basic necessity for our society. During the last legislative session, our state government appropriated 10 million dollars in funding for more cable landing sites, which will improve our broadband capabilities for better internet access. This action is a step in the right direction toward modernizing Hawaii.
Looking ahead, Senator Wakai states that ease of access to government services will continue to grow in importance and we need to prepare for it now by making infrastructure improvements that will support and drive our community in the future.
THG extends its appreciation to Senator Wakai for taking time from his busy schedule to join us and share his thoughts on government modernization.
Watch Episode 6 of the Digital Talk Story series here.