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What is state doing to expand broadband, digital literacy? Find out with free UH forum

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The University of Hawaiʻi will host a free online forum for the community to learn more about statewide efforts to expand broadband services and digital literacy opportunities.

The forum, which is open to the public, will be held via Zoom from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Thursday, June 23. To register, click here.

“Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Equity: Building Digital Foundations for Hawaiʻi’s Communities” is the first of many planned meetings to provide attendees with information of the programs in progress, as well as provide opportunities for the community to get involved and provide input to the planning process, according to a news release.

The ability to connect with one another through online means has become increasingly important throughout the past several years, and has become even more vital to reach critical education, healthcare and government resources and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release said.

“Meaningful access to universal broadband service is critical to supporting digital equity for all residents of Hawaiʻi,” Garret Yoshimi, UH vice president for information technology and chief information officer, said in the release. “Our UH team is helping to lead the statewide efforts to build important human and technological infrastructure that will be the foundation for our residents to thrive in the highly connected future. These public investments in broadband access directly align with UH’s mission to provide higher education, while working in collaboration with our statewide communities to support all of Hawaiʻi’s residents.”

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In August 2021, Gov. David Ige tasked the UH System with leading and coordinating a broad scale strategic investment effort to ensure that all of Hawaiʻi’s citizens have access to robust and reliable broadband services. 

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The agenda for Thursday’s meeting includes the following:

  • 1:30–1:35 p.m.: Welcoming Remarks and Introduction
  • 1:35–1:50 p.m.: Broadband 101, presented by Kaʻala Souza, author, consultant and public speaker. A high-level overview of what broadband is, how it plays into our daily lives, where it is and where it isn’t, and how to reach communities with little to no access to broadband while sustaining it elsewhere.
  • 1:50–2:10 p.m.: Closing the Gap, presented by Garret Yoshimi, UH vice president for information technology and chief information officer; Burt Lum, broadband strategy officer, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; and Laura Arcibal, telehealth and health care access coordinator, Department of Health. The federal government has allocated more than $300 million in broadband funding to the State of Hawaiʻi through numerous programs: U.S. Treasury, National Telecommunications and Information Administration and USDA. We’ll provide updates on these programs and the broadband equity access and deployment and the State of Hawaiʻi digital equity programs.
  • 2:10–2:40 p.m.: Digital Navigators in the Next Community Hubs, presented by Jill Takasaki Canfield, executive director, Hawaiʻi Literacy; and James Li, program manager Lanakila Pacific. Community networking and engagement are imperative to the success of the next community hubs. Learn about how to get involved in supporting community-based efforts and help us cut through the hurdles to meaningful broadband adoption.
  • 2:40–2:55 p.m.: Q&A
  • 2:55–3:00 p.m.: Closing remarks

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