Maui News

Broadband Hui Issues Digital Equity Declaration for Hawaiʻi

January 21, 2021, 1:42 PM HST
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When the pandemic struck, Broadband Hui began meeting weekly to discuss ways to provide digital equity to Hawaiʻi. Photo Courtesy: Broadband Hui

Broadband Hui, a conglomerate of public and private organizations and individuals, issued a Digital Equity Declaration for Hawaiʻi.

This Declaration compiles the collective priorities articulated through the months of thoughtful Broadband Hui conversations. It also adheres to the 2020 Hawai‘i Broadband Strategic Plan, which sets a foundation for collective action among private and public partners by providing a vision and goals that will move Hawaiʻi toward a more equitable digital future.

The Declaration is a call to address these critical needs by advancing the following three pillars of digital equity:

  • Access: Affordable, quality broadband for all.
  • Literacy: A baseline of digital competence for all.
  • Livelihood: Societal systems effectively leveraging digital opportunities to improve lives.

There is still time for organizations to sign the Digital Equity Declaration. A running list of signatures will be kept with the Declaration at: www.broadbandhui.org/.

Hawai‘i was not prepared for the first stay-at-home, work-from-home orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, providing equitable access to broadband, improving digital literacy, and effectively applying digital tools in essential sectors became among the State’s most pressing challenges.

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In March 2020, driven by the initial urgency to provide digital connectivity to those in need, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi and Transform Hawaiʻi Government convened 20 participants to find immediate solutions.

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In the 10 months since this initial meeting, more than 200 individuals representing wireline and wireless carriers; federal, state and county legislative and administrative leaders; local, national and international non-profits; public and private schools; universities; and private businesses joined the exploratory conversations. These ongoing weekly discussions gave voice to the community, and became known as the Broadband Hui.

Through the frank and diverse input gathered in this collective forum, it has become overwhelmingly apparent that many in Hawai‘i, primarily from rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, lack the necessary digital tools to work, learn, access essential services and participate in civic and social activities.

“Digital equity is ultimately more than access to broadband, achieving digital literacy or adopting the technology,” said Jeanne Skog, Chair of the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi. “It is about enabling every resident to qualify for the vast array of livelihoods. It is about Hawaiʻi surviving and thriving in the digital economy.”

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Christine Sakuda, Executive Director of Transform Hawaiʻi Government, added: “The work of this alliance of broadband stakeholders, both inside and outside of state government and with participation from all of Hawaiʻi’s counties, clearly demonstrates what we are able to accomplish if we work together.”

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