Archive for May, 2012

Summer offerings at ThinkTech-HVCA

May 28th, 2012

ThinkTech Hawaii

Happy Memorial Day. ThinkTech and the Hawaii Venture Capital Association will be steaming along this Summer with two important luncheon programs at the Plaza Club on the 20th Floor of Pioneer Plaza, 900 Fort Street Mall:

1. On Thursday, June 28th, ThinkTech and HVCA will present a luncheon panel program called “Speedy Relief from Tough Environmental Laws in Hawaii – amendment or exemption,” with a number of speakers and panelists to cover the controversial bills that were introduced this year to exempt special interests and government from the requirements of Hawaii’s environmental laws.

2. On July Thursday, 26th, ThinkTech and HVCA will present a luncheon panel program called “Filmmaking in Hawaii – the Legacy of the Descendants,” with a number of speakers and panelists to cover the status and and sometimes sporadic growth of the film industry in Hawaii, the challenges involved, and what it looks like for the future.

Sign up for these great programs on As we get closer to each, we'll be posting more detail about the panels, speakers and moderators on and on

We'll see you there.

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The Need for Speed on May 24th

May 19th, 2012

We'll be looking at The Need for Speed - Broadband in Hawaii on May 24th. Here's a video about the program.

Join us at the ThinkTech Hawaii Venture Capital Association luncheon on May 24, 2012 at the Plaza Club 20th Floor from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for a great conversation about “The Need for Speed - Broadband in Hawaii.”

We will examine current broadband speeds and access in Hawaii, such as they are (check your own speed out at; how we have lost our advantage over the last decade; the current market and appetite for greater speed and access; how a move to greater speed and access will affect and benefit our community; and what we need to do to achieve them.

What will it cost to catch up, and by whom will those costs be paid? Broadband is increasingly high tech, but affordable broadband is increasingly critical to our daily lives, businesses and the economic development of our state. At the end of the day, Broadband is at the heart of our economy and essential to keep us competitive in the 21st Century. The changes, policy issues and challenges must be identified and publicly addressed. Now, May 24, is a great time to get a handle on Broadband.

Sonny Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s Chief Information Officer, will present opening remarks. Yuka Nagashima of the High Tech Development Corporation will then moderate a panel of providers including David Lassner of the University of Hawaii, Brett Lewis of BlueStreak Broadband Networks; Clifford Miyake of TW Telecom of Hawaii; Nam Vu of ShakaNet; Kiman Wong of Oceanic Time Warner Cable; and Eric Yeaman of Hawaiian Telcom.

Let's meet and explore this important subject with these members of the press at the ThinkTech-HVCA luncheon on May 24th. As always, enjoy good food, great people and a first class networking experience. Register at

See you then!

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On the way to better government

May 8th, 2012

ThinkTech Hawaii

Until now, State Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia has been in relatively low profile. But that changed on Friday in the big conference room on the Fifth Floor of the Square Building. Friday was a special gathering of the tech industry, people who would be interested and excited by a new information technology plan for the state. And they were.

Sonny got here last year. He's in a special situation created by a grant from Pierre Omidyar, working directly with the governor's office to rebuild out state IT infrastructure. No surprise but rebuilding is long overdue. He has found a system fragmented to say the least, and in general decline, with disparate systems that range into their fourth decade.

In September 2011, the state released a comprehensive assessment of its IT assets, policies and procedures in what was called a baseline report. The baseline report identified 204 business functions and services delivered by state government employees in 18 Departments and over 500 IT applications currently in use. Talk about fragmentation.

Sonny spoke of the efforts he and his four assistants have been making to try to understand what the state has and what will it take to put Humpty together again. It's obvious that finding a path to a transformational solution will take a lot more time, effort, and money. Sonny said he felt he could do the job in well say 10 years, even though in other places it might be done faster.

Computers and networks don't grow on trees. He and the government both want this system to be the best in the world with open access to public information, open data he calls it, and at the same time with the appropriate controls. There's a lot of hardware and there's a lot of software involved. It's not as if you can call Dell and ask them to ship over a truckload of terminals and servers and that’s that. It has to be planned, integrated and programmed.

We were all rooting for him and will root for him in hopes that the legislature will support him and fund him next year and in the years to follow so that he will have adequate staff and resources to do it right. This won’t be chump change – over time, hundreds of millions.

What a change this will be for Hawaii's image; from grass skirts to world class government IT, and why not? We have the will and we know what we need; hopefully we can find the money and stay focused on it. Talk about jobs, great jobs too.

The process will be grand. The people involved will learn so much. The government will be improved and made more efficient in so many ways us. What a blessing that will be. Hopefully, the public will come along and the unions won't stand in the way. We can come out on top with a new image and a new way of doing representative government. New computer systems transform their owners, and this is as transformative of any initiative we've seen.

Pierre Omidyar gets kudos for enabling this. Neil Abercrombie, too, for having the vision to see its value. We look forward to hearing much more about Sonny's project. We look forward to seeing the changes fall into place, seeing the successes tumble out at us and improve our civic life, and most ultimately seeing the state rise to new efficiency. It can’t happen soon enough.

The press wasn't there but will undoubtedly pick up on this and raise public awareness about it. If we're going to spend $6 billion on rail then surely we can spend a fraction of that on the core functionality of our government, something that will do far more to improve our economy and keep our kids at home. All things considered, this is the initiative that will give us most bang for our buck. Let's press ahead with alacrity. Sonny, we’re counting on you.

As promised at the meeting on Friday, the Governor’s office then released a draft IT Transformation Strategy, and encouraged the public to provide ideas and feedback, recognizing the need for socialization in a project of this nature, and demonstrating the state’s commitment to creating an open and transparent government.

Want to see the draft? Check the Office of Information Management and Technology’s website (

“The state’s business and information technology transformation strategy establishes the foundation for a fundamental re-thinking of the way government conducts business,” Sonny said. “The transformation is not about just modernizing legacy technology systems. It is about transforming the state’s current business processes. Naturally, technology will play a significant role in enabling this transformation and the new way of how we deliver programs and services to citizens and businesses in Hawaii. We have a lot to change and improve but we are taking important foundational and methodical steps to get to a New Day.”

That’s pretty ambitious, and promises that this will be a mighty effort by the Abercrombie administration. Let’s be sure to stay tuned.

Comments on the draft will be taken through Friday, June 1. Feedback will be considered by OIMT and incorporated into the final version of the IT Transformation Strategic Plan that will be published in July.  If you have any ideas, whether you work for the state or not, go for it.

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Hawaii needs access to higher broadband speeds

May 1st, 2012

ThinkTech Hawaii

Broadband is Hawaii’s gateway to the universe, and don’t forget it.

Used to be in the late 1990s that we had among the fastest speeds in the world, but that slipped in the Lingle administration and is no longer the case.

Fact is that broadband doesn’t come down from heaven like cargo cult, we have to work for it, and we have to work to keep up with the speeds or we fall behind.

Speed costs. Not only the cost of fiber, which Oceanic Time Warner and Hawaiian Telcom have been putting in over the past few years, but also hardware, expensive black boxes that connect to the fiber.

We have some of the infrastructure, but we need to put in more, and that means more money. If we’re going to keep up, someone has to take the plunge and make the investment. It’s not enough to let the market creep up – we have to incentivize what we need.

Who will step up – the state, the carriers, the people, new investors, who?

If our kids and students are to have the educational opportunities and prospects they deserve, we need to get the speed. That includes the neighbor islands, and every corner of the state.

If our businesses and startups are to have the leverage they need to complete in a global 21st century, we need to get the speed.

In short, we need to get the speed everywhere in Hawaii and we need to get it at rates that are reasonable, especially in these difficult times. It means everything to the future.

Right now most people and businesses have 5-10 megabits (ten million bits) per second and some have as much as 50 megabits, but what we really need is more like a gigabit (a billion bits) per second, ultra high speed broadband 100 or 200 times faster.

No time to waste, but who is doing what to move us there. Well, High Tech Development Corporation (HTDC) is doing something and ThinkTech is working with it to develop public service announcements to let the public know about this, and about how important it is that we work together for greater speeds.

Those PSAs will play on network and community TV through the summer. Hope you get to see some of them and that they raise your awareness about broadband.

What’s more, ThinkTech and the Hawaii Venture Capital Association are presenting a luncheon panel program about broadband at the Plaza Club later this month – on Thursday, May 24th – featuring a number of qualified and enthusiastic speakers on the subject.

We’ll try to show you how important speed it and what it can do for the state. We’ll also try to show you where we are in developing the speed we need and what more we can do to incentivize the investment that can bring it to everyone here at reasonable prices.

We can’t afford to do less. Come see Broadband in Hawaii on May 24th and raise your understanding about Hawaii’s connectivity, and its future. Sign up on See you there.

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