HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige shared in his State of the State Address vision of Hawai‘i future with the idea of an upgraded and more sustainable local economy with Technology Readiness User Evaluation (TRUE)— in which digital technology is leveraged as a critical component of success at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox on Ilalo Street.
“I mean, this sandbox has exceeded all expectations,” Ige said in a press conference last week. “And it really is because of the collaboration of all in the private sector and public sector to really make this happen. I think we’ve all seen what COVID has done to our state, our country, and the world. It has super accelerated the advancement (of) the digital economy.”
Ige said the pandemic forced all Hawai‘i residents and business leaders to really rethink what everyone did on a daily basis.
“We have seen such a tremendous acceleration and shift,” Ige said. “In many cases, individuals and businesses struggle with that in the beginning, not really understanding whether this is really a transformation. I think many of us and Christine, we’ve been at this digital stuff for much longer than we would want to admit publicly. But so many fits and starts about trying to make the digital economy happen in the islands, and it took a pandemic, to really accelerate the transformation, much faster than any of us ever thought was possible.”
The pandemic and his kids on the mainland has been Ige’s reasons, he said, to really focused on the vision of Hawai‘i 2.0 and about what everyone in the community needs to do to ensure that Hawai‘i can be a place for their children to call home.
“To have the option to see the career opportunities to see a future here with affordable housing quality jobs, or being able to pursue their professional dreams in a way that all of us want for our children,” Ige said. “And I still have three children, kids working on the mainland, and I work every single day. And really this digital drive for the digital economy is the solution that all of us need to fully embrace and work toward because it definitely will make a difference.”
According to Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative’s website, TRUE creates a pathway for businesses to accelerate their adoption of technology. As a result, local organizations succeed, Hawai‘i’s economy becomes more diversified and sustainable, and Hawai‘i becomes a place where all residents can thrive. In essence, TRUE helps cultivate a thriving Hawai‘i through collaboration and the sharing of technology solutions.
Mike McCartney, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism said digital solutions have been a key for people to adopt to learn to understand.
“The sandbox is this facilitative cabas that can bring people together to do that,” McCartney said. “And that’s what David wants to do is be a facilitator of kindness. And I have many of my colleagues on the cabinet here. And I just wanted to acknowledge all of them and what they’re doing. Because the state’s working hard on things like this.”
On Kaua‘i, county officials say they are aware of O’ahu’s Sandbox.
“It’s very innovative and membership-based, and a facility that must be run and maintained,” said Nalani Brun, director of the Office of Economic Development. “We operate on a smaller scale with a much smaller population and instead support the community’s efforts in this area at this time.”
Mayor Derek Kawakami said investing heavily in technology has been and continues to be one of his team’s top priorities for the County of Kaua‘i, especially as the need for digital equity became more apparent throughout the pandemic.
“True Initiative seeks to have more public and private organizations adopt technology in order to cultivate a place where Hawai‘i residents can thrive,” Kawakami said. “I look forward to seeing more collaborations like True Initiative and the State of Hawai‘i, as technology continues to pave our future.”
Ige said he wants every Hawai‘i resident to have access to be connected, digitally literate, and have the opportunities and use these skills to hate help every single organization and business here in the state of Hawai‘i.
“This transformation has proven that any job can occur anywhere on the planet, delivering services they anywhere on the planet, and developing products and services, anywhere that we would want to where we dare to dream about doing that,” Ige said. “We want to be nimble, and competitive. We want our businesses here in Hawai‘i to thrive because we know what it takes. And I think most importantly, we’re committed to helping each other and helping every organization be successful in this new digital economy.
To get his vision going, Ige said it will involve leveraging business expertise, that requires the government to embrace technology.
“I’m proud of the state’s response to COVID,” Ige said. “It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But we embrace digital solutions, much faster than we’ve ever seen here in the state of Hawai‘i.”
Ige said actions have been in the works to use technology to make government and businesses more efficient, and more successful.
“And that’s something that we all need to embrace and help each other be successful,” Ige said. “I’m proud of the work that we’ve done in the State of Hawai‘i over the past 12 or 18 months. Hawai‘i Department Of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is modernizing to leverage technology to provide better and more efficient services, our unemployment office with all the challenges that we’ve had still applied, much technology to be able to improve services and turn turnaround and response time.
Ige said the Safe Travels program has been the model in the country about ensuring public health and safety.
“And I just checked the stat statistics. This morning, we’ve brought 4.2 million people who would not have come to Hawai‘i or to the islands in the nine months or so, since we implemented the Safe Travels program in a safe and healthy way that did not jeopardize the health and well being of our community. Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation is working with true and many other partners on e-commerce solutions. “