It’s easy for a headline like this to get lost in the mix: “Hawaii ranked No. 1 in nation in school Internet connectivity.”
This is a big deal.
If you take a look at the report from the Education Superhighway national advocacy group, you’ll see Hawaii is way ahead of the pack in delivering bandwidth to students and teachers. (Digital report:
stateofthestates.educationsuperhighway.org, click "ranking" for comparison.)
Hawaii is the only state providing 100 percent of needs in four categories: Connectivity (meeting 100 kbps per student minimum goal), Fiber (percent of schools with fiber connections needed to meet bandwidth targets, Wi-Fi (sufficient access in all classrooms) and Affordability (maximizing bandwidth for the budget). Much of this work was completed in 2014 with the Converged Infrastructure Initiative executed by our technology and facilities offices. (See
video, below, for a glimpse of how that project came together.)
A project of this size doesn’t get done with a snap of fingers, particularly when it comes to less-then-agile bureaucracies. But it was a clear necessity. Reliable internet access would provide our students with an edge in preparation for careers and college, and help achieve greater equity for all our students. It was something we had to work toward, patiently and diligently, for years.
My involvement dates back to my time at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), where I worked with then UH vice president for Information Technology (now UH President) David Lassner and Clyde Sonobe (now assistant superintendent, Office of Information Technology Services) to make this a priority in our state. There were many supporters, including Sen. Dan Inouye, who was instrumental in a $36 million federal grant, and the DCCA, which contributed $4 million. However, there were also many competing needs. The time and effort to complete the network upgrades was tremendous and required the dedication and hard work of Hawaii’s educational IT teams. We stayed focused, we didn’t give up, and now we lead the nation for connected schools.
It’s a major achievement, a legacy of equity and access for our students upon which we must continue to build.