Hawaiian Telcom Progress Hindered by Vandalism – Fiber Cables Deliberately Cut

Hawaiian Telcom Progress Hindered by Vandalism, Less than 200 Out of Service Hawaiian Telcom continues to make progress in restoring services to Big Island customers.

telcom1Less than 200 customers are out of service, primarily in Nanawale where crews have now begun to repair damaged cables.

Hawaiian Telcom crews worked over the Labor Day weekend but their progress was hindered by vandalism in Kapoho. Hawaiian Telcom crews discovered fiber cables that had been deliberately cut in several places. Copper theft is suspected and a police report has been filed. Theft of copper is a Class C felony in Hawaii punishable by five years in prison. Hawaiian Telcom urges the public to report suspicious activity to police at 911 or by calling Hawaiian Telcom security at 643-7111.

Hawaiian Telcom is continuing to provide free Wi-Fi service at the Hawaiian Paradise Park Activity Center and the Pahoa Community Center. Hours of operation at both locations are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, consumers should bring their own wireless devices, such as laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.

Hawaiian Telcom thanks customers for their patience and understanding as crews continue to work hard on restoring all services as quickly as possible.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Thursday August 28 at 7:00 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes.  Maximum Height: 58 degrees, and it will appear in the North Northwest part of the sky and disappear to the Southeast.

Hawaii Residents Have Opportunity to Spot the Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Wednesday August 8 at 7:51 PM. It will be visible for approximately 3 minutes.  Maximum Height: 55 degrees, and it will appear in the West Northwest part of the sky and disappear to the South.

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

Hawaii Earns Top Ranking in National Report on Progress in Open Data

One of 6 States to Receive a Perfect Score from Center for Data Innovation

The State of Hawaii is ranked among the top states for progress in open data in a new report (http://www.datainnovation.org/2014/08/state-open-data-policies-and-portals/) published this week by the Center for Data Innovation, the leading think tank studying the intersection of data, technology and public policy.

Click for more information.

Click for more information.

“This national recognition shows that collaborative and determined efforts on the part of this administration and the Legislature, together with our private sector partners and the public, have made great strides since launching our state’s business and information transformation in 2011,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We have developed a strong open government program that is rapidly improving transparency and accountability of state government.”

Hawaii was one of six states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah) to receive a perfect score in the Center for Data Innovation’s report, which evaluated states based on the contents of their open data policies and open data portals. Points are awarded for the presence of an open data policy, quality of open data policy, presence of an open data portal, and quality of an open data portal.

“Open data that does not compromise security or privacy is becoming more readily available to the public through data.hawaii.gov, recognizing that it belongs to the people of Hawaii,” said the Governor’s Chief Advisor on Technology and Cybersecurity, Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, who launched Hawaii’s Open Data Portal as Hawaii’s first chief information officer. “This award demonstrates that Hawaii can set a new national standard of excellence for open government.

“I’d like to acknowledge our dedicated state personnel at the Offices of Information Management Technology (OIMT) and Information Practices, as well as our partners at the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Open Data, and Socrata. We all need to support State CIO Keone Kali and his OIMT team as they continue to enhance the standard of excellence for the State of Hawaii.”

Hawaii’s Business & Information Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan and initiatives have received national recognition for innovation winning 20 national awards including being the only state recipient for the Fed 100 Award in 2013 and Government innovator of the Year in 2014. For more information on the plan, visit OIMT’s website at oimt.hawaii.gov.

The Center for Data Innovation is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. For more information about the center, visit datainnovation.org.

HELCO Power Restoration Update – 1,200 Remain Without Power

Hawaii Electric Light continues to restore electric service to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. Service to an additional 300 customers was restored Monday. Currently, an estimated 1200 customers remain without power.

Significant progress has been made in Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Pockets of customers within these areas may still be out of power. Customers in those areas who are still without power should report it by calling 969-6666.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews are focused on the following areas:

  • Nanawale Estates – electrical line crews are working on power lines throughout the subdivision. Work also continues on digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Lanipuna Gardens – electrical line crews are working on repairs on the main line providing service to the subdivision, as well as side streets.
  • Leilani Estates – electrical line crews are working on Kahukai Street and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.
  • Kapoho – electrical line crews are working on lines that provide service to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we make progress. In some neighborhoods, although main power lines have been restored, individual outages may need to be addressed home by home,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Restoration progress may also be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, estimates indicate it could approximately another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Customer Information Center in Puna

Hawaii Electric Light’s Customer Information Center was relocated on Aug. 16 to Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna, and will remain open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues. The center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches is closed.

Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station also will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there.

Restoring PowerBackground on restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

HELCO Power Restoration Update – Estimated 3,800 Customers With No Power Still

Crews continue to make progress on restoring power, restoring electric service to approximately 2,500 customers yesterday. Currently, an estimated 3,800 customers remain without power.

iselle dlnr

More than 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 26 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 30 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. The combined workforce will include crews from Hawaii island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and contracted companies.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews expect to continue making progress in the following areas: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna. In addition, crews expect to make progress down Pahoa-Kalapana Road.

Some areas of focus today include:

  • Nanawele Estates – In Nanawale Estates, crews are working on the main power line that brings electric service to the subdivision. Contracted crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes for new utility poles.
  • Hawaiian Paradise Park – In Hawaiian Paradise Park, crews have restored most of the main lines along Makuu and are focusing on Paradise Drive and the area between 21st and 12th Avenues, which suffered extensive damage from trees.
  • Hawaiian Beaches – In Hawaiian Beaches, crews have restored main lines along Kahakai Boulevard down to Puni Makai Loop. Crews are still addressing side streets in the vicinity of Puni Makai South.
  • Leilani Estates – In Leilani Estates, crews have restored power along Leilani Boulevard and are now working on side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.

In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees and debris and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches, Leilani Estates, Upper Puna, Keeau Agricultural Lots, and other areas throughout the Puna District. Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles.
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

Important safety information

As the restoration work progresses, Hawaii Electric Light urges the public to remember these important safety tips:

  • Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.
  • Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, endangering the public and utility crews. Plug appliances directly into your generator, using extension cords.
  • Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.
  • Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.
  • Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.
  • Anyone who is without power and who is dependent on electric-powered life support medical equipment should make arrangements to go to an alternate location with power. They should bring their medical equipment and medications with them. They should also stay in contact with their medical equipment supplier for any special equipment needs.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Several hundred people have been visiting the center daily. Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues.

Power Restoration Update from Hawaii Electric Light

Electric service to approximately 1,400 customers was restored yesterday as crews continue to make progress on restoring power in the Puna District.

Snapped Pole

More than 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 26 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 30 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. Approximately 30 more crew members will be arriving. The combined workforce will include crews from Hawaii island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and contracted companies.

“We understand how difficult things are for our customers who are still without power, so we’re grateful to have received so much support from across the state. We’re working extremely hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

“The magnitude of damage, especially concentrated in the Puna District, is greater than we’ve ever seen. Our preliminary estimate is that more than 200 utility poles and 130 transformers were damaged and need to be replaced,” added Pai.

With the larger field workforce, crews continue to identify previously unreported outages and gather more details about the extent of the damage caused by Iselle. Currently, an estimated 6,300 customers are without power.

Restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We’re also working on deploying the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible.

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that have need repair or replacement.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles.
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Acres, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna.

Some areas of focus today include:

  • In Hawaiian Beaches crews have restored main lines along Kahakai Boulevard down to Puni Makai Loop. This allows crews to restore side streets along the way.
  • In Leilani Estates, crews have restored power power along Leilani Boulevard and are now working on side streets.
  • In Hawaiian Paradise Park, crews have restore most of the main lines along Paradise Drive and are focusing on the area between 21st Street and 12th Street, which suffered extensive damage from trees.

In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches, Leilani Estates, Upper Puna, and other areas throughout the Puna District. Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Important safety information

As the restoration work progresses, Hawaii Electric Light urges the public to remember these important safety tips:

  • Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.
  • Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, creating a public safety hazard. Plug appliances directly into your generator, using extension cords.
  • Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.
  • Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.
  • Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Several hundred people have been visiting the center daily. Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

Puna Power Restoration Update From HELCO

Crews continue to make progress on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle. An estimated 6,800 – or about eight percent – of customers remain without power, down from an estimated 8,100 on Monday.

Today's update from HELCO

Today’s update from HELCO

“We understand many of our customers are still dealing with a very difficult situation. We are devoting every available resource to this effort. We have made progress and are committed to restoring power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Electrical line crews from West Hawaii have been redeployed to assist with the restoration. They joined a workforce that includes crews, equipment, and vehicles from East Hawaii, Oahu and Maui. Additional contracted crews include electrical line workers, construction crews to dig holes for new utility poles, and tree trimmers to clear fallen trees.

Collectively, these resources are allowing Hawaii Electric Light to maximize its efforts on restoring power in neighborhoods that are still without power.

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Hamakua, Upper Puna, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Beaches, and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Contracted crews will also be working in Leilani Estates and Nanawale. In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Every community in the Puna district was impacted. There are pockets throughout the region where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

As a safety precaution, customers should not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. Customers are also reminded not to approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. An estimated 300 to 400 people visited the center when it opened on Monday. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Launches New Data Visualization Application

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission launched a new data visualization application on its website, which will permit anyone to see how noncandidate committees which includes Super PACs are raising and spending money on 2014 state and county races.

In partnership with the State of Hawaii’s Office of Information Management & Technology (OIMT), Information & Communication Services Division (ICSD), and Socrata, the Commission unveiled its newest tool today on its website.

Access the Noncandidate Committee Data Visualization App

This new application will permit you to view charts of a noncandidate committee’s campaign spending data for a particular election period.  Similar to the candidate committee application which was released in November 2013, this app will permit you to view pie charts, a geo-map and a bar chart from data derived from the noncandidate committees’ reports which are filed electronically with the Commission from the last 6 years.  Highlights of the new app include:

  • Percentage of how contributions are funded (by individuals, candidate committees, noncandidate committees, vendor/business)
  • Percentage of contributions received from in-state versus out-of-state including geo-maps
  • Percentage of contributions by states as well as zip codes
  • Fundraising activity
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by office
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by party
  • Percentage of expenditures by category
  • Percentage of expenditures versus independent expenditures
  • Percentage of in-state versus out-of-state expenditures

campaign

This application was conceived to provide greater transparency and accountability in government and enable the public to follow the money of noncandidate committees’ participation in the elections in Hawaii.  “We hope this app will increase interest and voter engagement as we enter the primary election on August 9th and move towards the general election on November 4th,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao.

For more information, contact:

Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao
Associate Director Anthony Baldomero
Campaign Spending Commission
Phone:  (808) 586-0285

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds). It will be visible beginning tonight, Friday August 1st at 7:48 PM.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes.  Maximum Height: 48 degrees, and it will appear in the South Soutwest part of the sky and disappear to the Northeast.

Governor Presents $1.6 Million to Innovative Zero-Waste Biofuel Program in Hilo

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today presented a $1.6 million check on behalf of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center’s (DKI-PBARC) zero-waste biofuel and high-protein feed program on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture Agribusiness Development Corporation check presentation to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture Agribusiness Development Corporation check presentation to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

DKI-PBARC, and Florida-based BioTork LLC, have invested more than $1 million to successfully develop an economically sustainable zero-waste conversion project producing biofuel and high-protein animal feed from unmarketable papaya and other low-value agriculture feedstock. The conversion process takes fewer than 14 days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment, meaning no sunlight is needed using organically optimized algae/fungi developed and patented by BioTork.

The state’s $1.6 million is in addition to its initial $200,000 investment that will assist DKI-PBARC in moving the Hilo-based project to demonstration scale as a prelude to commercial production. The ADC will become a venture partner to globally export the rapid conversion technology in association with PBARC and BioTork.

“Our investment promotes further use of agricultural crops to provide clean energy and leads us on a more definitive path towards food sustainability,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We need to focus on projects like this as Hawaii emerges as a global leader for biofuel and feed research and development.”

“Another by-product of this process is the production of high-protein feed and fish feed,” explained Scott Enright, HDOA chair. “The feed can greatly benefit cattle, swine, poultry and support aquaculture operations.”

The state also hopes to develop a long-term revenue generator as a partner exporting this technology. At full scale, more than 1,000 jobs are projected.

While papaya was chosen as the initial feedstock, this technology can be applied to any plant material as a carbon source. In Hawaii, other identifiable feedstocks are unmarketable sweet potato, sugar cane, mango, molasses and glycerol. Invasive trees, like albizia, could also be used as feedstock in this zero-waste program.

It is imperative that we provide support to build the necessary infrastructure which opens up new markets for agriculture,” said Jimmy Nakatani, ADC executive director. “Progress at DKI-PBARC has been nothing less than stellar to accomplish this, through efforts led by Research Plant Pathologist and Program Manager Dr. Lisa Keith.”

Funds are also being used to research the conversion of locally produced molasses. Samples from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company are being tested to determine which high-value and economically viable co-products can be developed using natural methods to create much more value to the local economy.

Following the Money in Local Politics? There’s an Site/App for That!

Hi Damon,

I’m working with Common Cause Hawaii (along with an organization I co-founded called Hawaii Open Data) to spread the word about new tools designed to help Hawaii residents get a better view of how local government works. With the Primary Election looming next week, it’s the perfect time to try them out.

I wanted to encourage you to consider covering these web apps, which all work with publicly available data from the Campaign Spending Commission, but offer different ways to make sense of it. As the data is statewide, there’s also an additional opportunity to gain insight into candidates and campaigns on Hawaii Island specifically.

Here’s a list of the free apps, each of which was created by a local developer (or team of coders) that participated in the Civic*Celerator, a tech competition that challenged geeks to build something to encourage greater participation in civic life and greater transparency in government: http://civic.celerator.org/apps/

Though we’re not talking fun and games like Angry Birds here, I hope the value of these apps to the community is clear. :)

Examples? Perhaps the most compelling web app, visually, is the Hawaii Campaign Spending Data tool by Jason Axelson. Beautiful yet intuitive graphic representations of campaign spending by office (governor, Hawaii county council, OHA, etc.), candidate, party, category… just click around for a minute or two, and some interesting patterns will emerge: http://viz.hawaiicampaignspending.com/

spending data

Spending data 2Or here’s an app by Royce Jones that includes both candidate filing information and campaign spending information, and links it to an easily-navigated map of the islands: http://civic-celerator.maps.arcgis.com/home/

Spending data 3

You can figure out which voting precinct you’re in, who’s running, who’s donating to their campaigns, and even see online exactly what your ballot will look like.

Spending data 4

These only scratch the surface of these free tools, created for everyday people by (slightly geekier) every day people. While there’s been volumes and volumes of data available for years, now a growing corps of “civic hackers” are building ways to make sense of it all.

Not only do I think these web apps would make for a great “tech for good” story, but I think bloggers like you could actually use them to generate a number of other interesting stories. Which candidate spent the most on food on Hawaii Island? Which political party, besides the Democrats, is fielding the most candidates for public office statewide? The possibilities, once you begin to explore the data in new ways, are endless.

Please let me know if you’d like to speak to someone about these tools. I can help connect you with some of the organizers of the Civic*Celerator for the big picture, or help set up a walk through from one of the developers for an in-depth tour of any of the apps. Just reply to this email and I’ll get the ball rolling. Otherwise, feel free to try them out, review them or post a tour, whatever you think will help demonstrate the value of campaign spending data and these volunteer-built apps.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Burt Lum, Hawaii Open Data

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Begins Construction on Mauna Kea

Following the approval of a sublease on July 25 by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) announces the beginning of the construction phase on Hawaii Island and around the world throughout the TMT international partnership. Contingent on that decision, the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Directors, the project’s new governing body, recently approved the initial phase of construction, with activities near the summit of Mauna Kea scheduled to start later this year.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

Kahu Ku Mauna and the Mauna Kea Management Board reviewed, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents recently approved, the proposed TMT sublease. The final approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources—the last step in the sublease process—allows TMT to begin on-site construction on Mauna Kea, home to many of the world’s premier observatories.

“It has been an amazing journey for TMT, from idea to shovel-ready project,” said Henry Yang, TIO Board Chair and Chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara. “We are grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Hawaiian government, its citizens, and our project partners in bringing this important astronomical science effort to fruition. It is also my rewarding experience to work with so many community friends, University of Hawaii colleagues, and officials on both the Big Island and Oahu in this journey.”

The Rise of a New Observatory – Activities Around the World

The TMT project was initiated a decade ago by the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of California as the TMT Observatory Corporation. Now, as the TMT International Observatory (TIO)—founded as a nonprofit limited liability company on May 6, 2014 —the project has the official green light to begin constructing a powerful next-generation telescope.

The TIO founding members are Caltech, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, and the University of California. India, an associate, is expected to become a full member later this year. Canada is also an associate and aiming to join as a full member in 2015.

Initial construction activities in Hawaii will include grading the site in preparation for future building work, enabling a site dedication ceremony in October. TMT is committed to work within a plan for responsible development on Mauna Kea created by the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

“TMT has worked for many years to design an unprecedented telescope, but also to work with the community to incorporate respect for Mauna Kea in our stewardship,” said Gary Sanders, Project Manager for TMT. “It is an honor and a privilege to now begin building our next-generation observatory in so special a place.”

Other work has already been proceeding off-site and will continue now apace.

“Design of the fully articulated main science steering mirror system in the telescope, as well as development of the lasers, laser guide star systems and other high-tech components, is proceeding in China,” said Yan Jun, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

“Japan has seen to the production of over 60 mirror blanks made out of special zero-expansion glass that does not alter its shape with temperature changes. The blanks will be highly polished for use in the telescope’s 30-meter diameter primary mirror. The final design of the telescope structure itself is nearing completion,” said Masanori Iye, TMT International Observatory Board Vice Chair and TMT Japan Representative for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

In Canada, the TMT adaptive optics facility is in final design. Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the ACURA, added, “The TMT enclosure design is complete and the enclosure is now ready for construction by a Canadian industrial firm.”

“Prototyping of TMT’s primary mirror assemblies and the building of mirror actuators, edge sensors, and support systems is ongoing in India,” noted Eswar Reddy, Program Director of the India TMT Coordination Centre.

Three “first-light” instruments are also under development with major contributions from all of the TMT partners.

The Path to Construction

The announcement of an imminent start to on-site work, where all of these initial developments will come together, is welcome news to scientists worldwide.

“The start of construction means that TMT is becoming real, and that’s exciting news for astronomers,” said Catherine Pilachowski, an astronomer at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and an observer representing the United States astronomical community at TMT board meetings. “The science TMT will do is breathtaking, and will engage all astronomers in the adventure of new frontiers.”

The advancement of TMT to this stage of imminent on-site construction has been made possible by the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The foundation has spent $141 million to date to fund the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

“I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and all of our partners and supporters,” said Edward Stone, the Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech and the new Executive Director of TIO. “We are looking forward to starting construction this year and moving ahead.”

A Boost for Hawaii

The start of TMT on-site construction will directly benefit the local Hawaiian community. TMT will now make its first annual contribution to The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund, a program that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math education across grades K-12, secondary, and post-secondary education. Over the life of the TMT lease on Mauna Kea, TMT will give $1 million per year to the THINK Fund.

In the construction sector, TMT will create about 300 full-time construction jobs. TMT has committed to the hiring of union workers for these positions. Looking further ahead, during operations, TMT will have a staff of about 120-140, which will be drawn as much as possible from Hawaii Island’s available labor pool. A workforce pipeline program in the meantime will also educate and train island residents for jobs with TMT, as well as other observatories and high-tech industries.

“The start of construction of TMT is great news for Hawaii Island residents,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We are proud to be a good citizen of the community as we all work toward building a revolutionary astronomical instrument.”

 

Video – Simulated Mars Mission Complete

The HI-SEAS Crew 2 had a live Google Hangout event today when they returned to “Earth” from “Simulated Mars”.  They have been living in a Mars simulation located on Mauna Loa for the past 120 days.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

Here is the video:
[youtube=http://youtu.be/YvUIh2Y8fns]

Meet Lava – Hawaii’s Tweeting Two-Colored-Faced Cat

Ok… well every once in a while I come across something pretty strange.  Tonight I think I out did myself.  Meet “Lava” the Tweeting Two-Colored-Face Cat from Honolulu, Hawaii:

Lava's Twitter "Profile" picture

Lava’s Twitter “Profile” picture

Lava tweets about everything a normal cat would… things like the thing she tweeted today:
Lava Tweet 1Lava bills herself as a “Hot Hawaiian Adventure Cat” and seems to live quite the lifestyle:
Lava Tweet 2The owner of the cat said that she named her “Lava” because she looked like lava pouring.  You can check out her entire series of tweets here @ohmylava.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

She is only followed by 54 folks at this time… but I expect her to soon beat out Justin Bieber for followers… LOL!

Report Shows Access Learning Pilot Enhances Teaching and Student Learning

A first-year report on the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Access Learning pilot presented to the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) today shows the initiative is helping to reduce burden on teachers, increase student engagement and responsibility, and improve parents’ support of public schools.

Click to view the report

Click to view the report

Last year, the DOE unveiled Access Learning, a pilot project to study the impact of technology and digital curricular resources on teaching and learning, at eight schools. This initiative takes advantage of ongoing Department efforts such as new technology for learning while addressing challenges facing our public schools. Access Learning does not focus on the device, rather on how technology can be a tool to support teachers’ efforts to personalize instruction and engage students.

Monanalua Middle School Principal Lisa Nagamine told the BOE, “Access Learning has enhanced the collaborative learning environment of our school.”

Moanalua Middle is one of the eight Access Learning schools that has incorporated technology for learning at all levels within its campus, not just the student level.

“The dedication and commitment by the school leaders, staff, and students allowed us to see the full potential of this initiative and its impact on student learning,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We appreciate their input and based on the positive results, hope to increase access to digital learning in all schools in the near future.”

Information and data collected from the eight Access Learning schools from October 2013 through April 2014 revealed:

  • Teachers use computers in a wide variety of ways to improve job performance and teaching – and that usage has increased since an initial survey was done last fall.
  • Teachers believe access to technology will benefit English language learners and special education students.
  • Students reported having positive experiences with the program. More than 90 percent of students surveyed say laptops make schoolwork more interesting and better prepare them for the future.
  • Students reported computers help them to be more organized and finish work more quickly and with better quality. Access to technology also made assignments a lot more fun by creating blogs, slideshows, movie trailers, and usage of other media.
  • Laptops allowed for better peer collaboration during project work and completing homework.
  • Parents believe computers help students gain a better insight into the happenings of the classroom and learn essential skills to compete globally.

“The 1-to-1 laptop program has improved education opportunities for students,” noted one parent. “The school has finally caught up with private schools.”

“I have seen increased student engagement in classwork because their computer allows them to have a ‘voice’ at the same time as everyone else. Less students are distracted or off task. (This) has allowed students to work more collaboratively in and out of the classroom setting,” one teacher reported.

The 2013 Legislature appropriated $8.2 million to the DOE for the pilot, which funded computers for teachers and students, technical support, professional development, and also helped offset curriculum and implementation expenses. In addition to Moanalua Middle, Access Learning pilot schools include Keaau Elementary and Pahoa Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, and Nanakuli Intermediate and High.

Pilot schools received devices for every student and teacher equipped with Hawaii Common Core-aligned digital curriculum for English Language Arts. The DOE partnered with county police departments to safeguard the computers, all of which are equipped with advanced security tracking software. As a result, the schools reported a combined theft and loss rate of only six computers (less than 1 percent).

Due to funding requirements, the Department was given a very short window to implement the initiative and the report noted those challenges. Teachers expressed frustration with limited time for professional development sessions. View the full report here.

During the past legislative session, DOE requested funding for ongoing Access Learning technical assistance and professional development. The budget request was denied; however, DOE officials worked with and received approval from the BOE to expend funding to continue technical assistance for the pilot schools through FY15. The funding request to the BOE will provide customized professional development for schools, overall and school specific program evaluation for formative purposes, and support for project management. For more information about the program, see the DOE’s Access Learning page.

United 777 Diverts to Remote Pacific Island After Burning Smell Reported

A United Boeing 777 diverted to the tiny Pacific island of Midway last night after a burning smell filled the plane while it flew over one of the most remote places on earth.

Stranded Plane

The airline will only say it was a mechanical issue. But this may have been a fairly serious incident. No one was hurt but those on board had the scare of their lives, says Teresita Smith from Maryland, who was traveling on board with 25 family members.

“The smell was getting stronger…it smelled like something burning,” she told ABC News in a phone interview today from Honolulu.

The departure had originally been delayed in Honolulu because of the odor but was cleared for takeoff for the eight-hour flight to Guam after about three hours, she said.

And then five hours into the flight the smell returned. “In the back section of the plane alarms were going off,” Smith said. Then after the pilot announced the plane would be diverting to Midway, the power seemed to go out and the plane dropped precipitously. “It was very scary,” she said. “It shook a lot of people up.”

More here: United 777 Diverts to Remote Pacific Island After Burning Smell Reported

Drone Planes Banned From Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and ALL Other National Parks

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today signed a policy memorandum that directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Entrance

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Entrance

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care,” Jarvis said. “However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”

Unmanned aircraft have already been prohibited at several national parks. These parks initiated bans after noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, an incident in which park wildlife were harassed, and park visitor safety concerns.

Last September, an unmanned aircraft flew above evening visitors seated in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheater. Park rangers concerned for visitors’ safety confiscated the unmanned aircraft.

In April, visitors at Grand Canyon National Park gathered for a quiet sunset, which was interrupted by a loud unmanned aircraft flying back and forth and eventually crashing in the canyon. Later in the month, volunteers at Zion National Park witnessed an unmanned aircraft disturb a herd of bighorn sheep, reportedly separating adults from young animals.

The policy memorandum directs park superintendents to take a number of steps to exclude unmanned aircraft from national parks. The steps include drafting a written justification for the action, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, and providing public notice of the action.

The memorandum does not affect the primary jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration over the National Airspace System.

The policy memorandum is a temporary measure. Jarvis said the next step will be to propose a Servicewide regulation regarding unmanned aircraft. That process can take considerable time, depending on the complexity of the rule, and includes public notice of the proposed regulation and opportunity for public comment.

The policy memo directs superintendents to use their existing authority within the Code of Federal Regulations to prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft, and to include that prohibition in the park’s compendium, a set of park-specific regulations.

All permits previously issued for unmanned aircraft will be suspended until reviewed and approved by the associate director of the National Park Service’s Visitor and Resource Protection directorate. The associate director must approve any new special use permits authorizing the use of unmanned aircraft. Superintendents who have previously authorized the use of model aircraft for hobbyist or recreational use may allow such use to continue.

The National Park Service may use unmanned aircraft for administrative purposes such as search and rescue, fire operations and scientific study. These uses must also be approved by the associate director for Visitor and Resource Protection.

Hawaii’s State and County Leaders Formalize Joint Sustainability Commitment

“Aloha+ Challenge” Sets 6 Targets by 2030

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s four county mayors, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) leadership jointly launched the Aloha+ Challenge: A Culture of Sustainability – He Nohona ‘Ae‘oia at a declaration signing held today at the Hawaii State Capitol. The statewide joint leadership commitment sets clear targets for clean energy transformation, local food production, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart growth, climate resilience, green jobs and education by 2030.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

“The Aloha+ Challenge brings us all together across jurisdictions, agencies, sectors and communities to build a sustainable Hawaii for current and future generations,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who as a member of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is in a strong position to provide recommendations on how the federal government can support local efforts outlined today. “The targets transcend political timelines with a longer-term vision that also calls upon us to take bold action now. As a microcosm of the world’s sustainability challenges, it is time for Hawaii to become a global model of how to develop innovative and collaborative solutions.”

The Hawaii State Legislature unanimously passed the Aloha+ Challenge through resolution this year. Hawaii Green Growth, which brings together key leaders from federal, state, county, business and nonprofit organizations, hosted the declaration signing to show broad support.

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Hawaii’s commitment to the Aloha+ Challenge is already creating international attention. With the U.S. Department of State, Hawaii has been invited to announce the Aloha+ Challenge on the world stage at a high-level Global Island Partnership event in Samoa this September, during the United Nations’ International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which focuses on sustainable development.

“Alternative energy sources like H-Power, solar and wind, combined with fewer car trips and reduced energy consumption, will help us sustain our island for future generations,” said City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We have to invest in our future, and now is the time to do it.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said: “The Aloha+ Challenge is about protecting our Hawaii and maximizing our resources to improve the quality of life for our communities. It reinforces that our decision-making as a state must focus on sustaining our resources for generations to come, and must be rooted in aloha.”

“The Aloha+ Challenge is about leading by example,” Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said. “Our goal is to provide a higher quality of life for our children, and to build a community for our grandchildren that they can be proud of.”

“We are a state separated by ocean, but we are connected in so many ways – by families, by businesses and by shared values and traditions,” said Mayor Bernard Carvahlo of Kauai County. “It is important for us to always remember that. When our leadership focuses on one vision, we are united.”

“We must honor our past while also preparing for our future,” said Kamana‘opono Crabbe, chief executive officer for OHA. “The active participation of the community partners in this effort will also play a major role in bringing about a better, brighter future for all people of Hawaii.”

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie's Twitter feed.

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie’s Twitter feed.

In addition to sharing tools and knowledge and expanding partnerships, Hawaii’s top elected officials have agreed to develop a joint system of tracking progress and to increase long-term financing mechanisms for conservation and sustainability programs geared towards reaching the 2030 targets.

The Aloha+ Challenge commits Hawaii to reaching six targets by 2030:

  1. Clean Energy: 70 percent clean energy – 40 percent from renewables and 30 percent from efficiency (reinforcing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative)
  2. Local Food: At least double local food production – 20 to 30 percent of food consumed is grown locally
  3. Natural Resource Management: Reverse the trend of natural resource loss mauka to makai by increasing freshwater security, watershed protection, community-based marine management, invasive species control and native species restoration
  4. Waste Reduction: Reduce the solid waste stream prior to disposal by 70 percent through source reduction, recycling, bioconversion and landfill diversion methods
  5. Smart Sustainable Communities: Increase livability and resilience in the built environment through planning and implementation at state and county levels
  6. Green Workforce and Education: Increase local green jobs and education to implement these targets

In 2011, Gov. Abercrombie signed Act 181, which established sustainability as a priority in the Hawaii State Plan and incorporated the definition, goals and principles of sustainability from the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan into Chapter 226. More than 10,000 citizens participated in the Hawaii 2050 planning process.