Hawai’i has launched its Connect Kākou initiative, which aims to ensure underserved communities across Hawaiʻi have reliable and affordable access to high-speed internet via transformative new statewide infrastructure and a boost in digital literacy programs.
Connect Kākou, led by Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, is a collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Broadband and Digital Equity Office, University of Hawaiʻi, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and several other state and county agencies.
“Connect Kākou conveys that this initiative is about everyone, not just the select few,” said Lt. Gov. Luke. “A reliable internet connection is essential to access quality healthcare, education, government, career opportunities, and more, yet nearly one in ten households in Hawaiʻi does not have internet access.”
To fund the initiative, Hawaiʻi said it has already received an initial investment of $320 million in Federal funding and anticipates additional funding over the next five years. In June, Hawaiʻi was awarded more than $149 million under an initiative financed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The state said the program aims to meet people where they are – physically and at their level of digital readiness.
“Our unique geography contributed to our state’s high percentage of residents without internet,” said Kaʻala’ Souza, digital equity consultant. “Connect Kākou is designed to ensure that no one is left behind and our community has the tools to achieve digital literacy.”
To ensure that the new initiative fully connects state residents, Connect Kākou leaders are soliciting public feedback. Public information sessions are being held and the state is seeking feedback and commentary from underserved communities. Public comment for Hawaiʻi’s Initial Proposal will be accepted until December 10. According to state leaders, the next step in the process will be to submit the complete Initial Proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by the end of 2024.