Community Broadband Efforts Compete with Corporate Services The FreePress' Save the Internet initiative covered a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) today and shared the video above. Josh Levy of the FreePress reported, "Bristol, Va., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Lafayette, La.— built next-generation broadband networks that deliver a faster, more affordable Internet than their corporate competitors."

Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative said that all three cities offer gigabit service throughout the community. Additionally, “these publicly owned networks have each created hundreds of jobs and saved millions of dollars,” said Mitchell. The full text of the ILSR report can be found here, as well as more information at the Community Broadband Networks initiative.

On Oahu, Kokua Wireless is smaller version of community broadband. It describes itself as "a private network that has joined forces with the City and County of Honolulu and Private Business sponsors, to create free access to the internet via Wifi across the island." There is also a map of where the service can be accessed, and at what data rate. Statewide, the Hawaii Broadband Task Force is using their own broadband map to collect data on usage and areas in need of service.


Jack Shafer on the Human Desire for Self-Expression & Facebook's Instagram Buy

Amid the blaze of criticism, speculation and punditry around Facebook's purchase of Instagram that have lit up the web today, Jack Shafer has posted a smart commentary that resonates with modern journalism. Shafer cites Facebook's move as one which identifies a flaw in their mobile app, which is exploited by Instagram, the ability for people to say, "I'm here." Today he wrote,

Sometimes the simpler the message, the more urgent the need to share it. Example: The first thing most people do upon landing at an airport and being told by the captain they can now use their mobile phones is to whip it out and tell someone—anyone!—where they are and where they’re going.

Another example may be, 'the military junta just broke into my home,' or 'our plane just landed safely in the Hudson.' As we've seen from political and social uprisings, the immediacy and simplicity of delivering an expression is integral. These 140-character messages or photos alone are basic, but aggregated en masse, they can have greater and more complex outcomes. Traditional reporting works in a similar fashion.

"I'm here" is the personal equivalent to "this is happening now" or "that just happened" (and not in the Ricky Bobby shake-n-bake way).  It's kind of like the idea behind CNN's iReport. This sale off the application could mark a point in the shift from a 'need to know' to a 'need to tell' culture of information sharing. Soon, each Instagram update, tweet and observation can become a data point in a narrative that when compiled, becomes a set for analysis and understanding. It's another form of data journalism, if you will. And Zuckerberg & Co. just bought a whole bunch more data points to track.

Will Facebook's acquisition of this application improve this sort of data collection, or reporting from it? Probably not. Yet, Shafer has honed in on a unique 21st century way that we communicate publicly.

*Also worth reading: Om Malik's and Alexis Madrigal's takes on the acquisition.

#UNZ12: Unconferenz Highlights

This past Saturday, Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa held the 5th annual Unconferenz at Kap'iolani Community College, and once again spurred great conversation on technology in Hawaii. In addition to all to the photos and other media that will surely come out of the event, Gee Why's Storify is a neat piece that drew the day together, and there's Ustream footage of the Ignite session online as well. You can also check out our twitter feed for more notes from the discussions. In the following, I've provided a few highlights from my day there as a first-time attendee. Because issues of interest to the Media Council were slated for the same room, I was in one place almost all day. Fortunately, a number of others selected a similar schedule and kept conversation ripe throughout the day. The morning sessions I attended seemed to run in an interesting chronological and ideological order:

The first session was centered around social innovation; ways to engage and activate a community on and offline. This discussion began in on agricultural issues, but quickly grew into other areas when Kevin Vaccarello of Sustain Hawaii brought up the idea of achieving a 'triple bottom line' through education, innovation and advocacy. The concept being that, in working toward these three goals, an organization can help educate a public, provide entrepreneurship and business opportunities through innovations, and advocate for their cause to create policies for governance.  The triple bottom line was a good foundation for the subsequent session on Internet Activism & Democracy.

Dan Leuck and Peter Kay  helped continue the social innovation conversation into voter action in Hawaii. They specifically welcomed Civil Beat Editor, John Temple, for the work his media outlet provides to Hawaii voters. Improving Hawaii's low voter turn-out, Temple said is one of his goals for Civil Beat. With a number of web developers in the room, ideas for helping voters identify with candidates, ranged from infographs to facebook updates and applying concepts from dating sites to match issue interests between candidates and voters. Soon, discussions turned to action in the next session.

In the third morning session, the Hawaii Innovation Alliance (which grew out of the #HiTechTown talk ) made an ambitious effort, amid a room full of contributors, to draft a charter. Even Rep. Gene Ward showed up to add his insight to the discussion. While some progress was made, debate over semantics was an obstacle. From my own seat, it was neat to see a room full of independent contractors try to find a bi-partisan common ground in their establishment of a guild/trade association. One issue for action, that I think many HIA members have a stake in, is the increased speed and access of broadband services in the state.

After lunch, the future of Hawaii's broadband infrastructure was discussed with several experts in the room. Kiman Wong (Oceanic), Yuka Nagashima (High Tech Development Corp.), Gordon Bruce and Forest Frizzell (City & County of Honolulu) lead the discussion with contributions from knowledgeable participants who have worked, or are currently working, in this industry. With nearly all participants present IRL (in real life) and online, wifi capabilities at the conference were noticeably burdened by the data traffic. This proved to be the common concern of the session, that improvement in Hawaii's broadband is desired, or necessary.  Disagreement, however, came upon ways to connect to, or improve upon, current infrastructure. Gordon Bruce's decades of experience in this industry was particularly insightful for understanding the relationships between telecom providers and the state.

The day closed out with a presentations by Code for America Fellows and Ignite Honolulu. For me, these presentations exemplified the past and current successes of the Unconferenz, while displaying a consistent trait in the tech community - a potential for future opportunities.

Thanks again to Burt, Ryan and everyone who helped put the event together.


Broadband Bills To Watch This Week

This week, both House and Senate committees are scheduled to discuss bills relating to broadband internet technology. Last year, Gov. Abercrombie announced a broadband initiative with ambitious connectivity goals. These bills are, in part, ways to get there. You are encouraged to submit your testimony to the House bills (here) and the Senate (here). On Tuesday, February 7, at the House Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business hearing agenda are several bills for permitting and construction for broadband infrastructure.

  • HB2324: Broadband; Permits Exempts the upgrading and new construction of broadband facilities on state and county property from state and county permitting processes.
  • HB2325: Broadband Permits; Automatic Approval; Construction Requires the State and counties to approve, approve with modification, or disapprove all broadband related permits within 45 days. If no action is taken, the application will be deemed approved on the 46th day.
  • HB2653: Broadband; Telecommunications; Permits Exempts the upgrading of existing wireless broadband facilities from state and county permitting processes. Requires State and counties to give final approval for new wireless infrastructure within 120 days and approve permits for new wireless infrastructure within 45 days.

Then on Wednesday, February 8, Senate committees on Commerce & Consumer Protection, and Economic Development & Technology are scheduled to hear more bills on broadband communications. (The hearing agenda.)

Storified: #HB2288 Committee Hearing


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2012 legislative session is motion and the other day I heard someone say, "bills are already moving so fast." True enough, but not much gets past web natives, especially when you threaten their rights. HB 2588 saw that first thing this morning. Check out the Storify after the jump  

Water Surrounding ClearCom's Broadband Plan Is a Bit Murky

HB 2267 "RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST CLEARCOM, INC., IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE IN HAWAII," already has 21 co-sponsors (just shy of half of the representatives in the House) and is currently being heard in committee this morning. Who is ClearCom, Inc.? And why should the state set give them $100 million to improve the state's fiber optic network that also allots for the construction of a hydropower plant?

ClearCom is affiliate company of Sandwich Isles Communications, Inc. (SIC), which provides telephone service to Hawaiian Home Lands. According to Brandon Roberts's 2008 report in the Molokai Dispatch, ClearCom built a telecom network which involved drilling beneath Molokai's southern fringing reef. However, the project wasn't just water under the bridge.

After assuring the community that no Molokai water would be used, ClearCom consumed up to 44,000 gallons of Homesteader's drinking water everyday of drilling to make a special mixture of mud to push the undersea drill.

The bill notes that fiber optic cables can be installed in abandon water mains, which appears logical enough. Yet given the experience by Molokai residence and current issues with the state watershed and waste water systems, is this the best use of funds?

Hawaii Policy Portal Drafts SOPA/PIPA Online Petition

In addition to national efforts and petitions to block the passage of SOPA and PIPA, The Hawaii Policy Portal is circulating this petition to take action against these bills. "Once we get this to 100 or more signers," said portal co-founder, Kory Panye, "we'll send the list of names and addresses to [Sens. Akaka's and Inouye's] offices."

The Hawaii Public Policy Portal is a web tool that, according to their site,  allows users to "easily create an online form that will allow people to take action on an issue or a bill you are tracking." With today's start of the 2012 legislative session, the web site's mission is "to help allow the sun to shine in on the legislative process, and to make it easier for people to participate."


Keeping Up With #SOPA & #PIPA Commentary

Last night at The Greenhouse, a few dozen of us watched the web's most popular sites blackout in opposition to the legislation which could regulate internet content. Since then, it looks like Twitter has exploded with news, commentary and ways to bother legislators about this issue. Keep an eye on our feed @MediaCouncilHI for good reads and info on SOPA and PIPA. In the meantime here is a short list of good links:

Also: keep your eye on @theHI for news on where Hawaii's elected officials stand on these bills, the FreePress Whiplist for all other states, and read Google's stance if you haven't already.