Gov. Neil Abercrombie walked into his ceremonial room at the state Capitol holding a smartphone that was streaming his bill signing event live on the Internet.
Abercrombie was making the point that technology matters, and with greater technology comes the ability to more easily distribute information to the public.
"The very nature of our challenge right now is, can we get the hardware up to date that will allow us to do it?" said the governor.
Abercrombie signed two bills into law Wednesday that hope to enhance Hawaii's broadband and cyber-security capabilities, while a third bill promises to provide more data on state government.
Known as the "open data" bill, HB 632 requires nearly all state departments and agencies to make electronic data sets available to the public online. State Sen. Glenn Waikai, the driving force behind the bill in the House, said a plethora of information would eventually be available to the public.
"We should be able to allow people to see everything from salaries, to how many people we have in various departments, to business registration, to court documents, to everything," said Waikai. "If you're going to have open government, it has to start with open data."
Agencies have already begun placing data sets on a new dedicated website, www.data.hawaii.gov. Abercrombie said more information would be made available by early next year.
"By next legislative session, we'll provide government data in a way the state had never (done) before," said the governor. "Everyone in the state will be able to participate."
Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia, Hawaii's chief information officer, said the state's default position on the sharing of information would be, "Share first, and protect what you must."
A description of the three bills signed into law Wednesday is as follows:
HB632 (Relating to Open Data) requires state departments to make electronic data sets available to the public. The bill also requires the chief information officer (CIO) to develop policies and procedures to implement the Open Data Initiative, and appropriates $100,000 each fiscal year of the biennium to Office of Information Practices (OIP).
HB635 (Relating to Broadband) requires the state and counties to take action in advancing the Hawaii Broadband Initiative within 60 days (for conservation districts, the state must take action within 145 days). The initiative’s goal is to provide ultra high-speed Internet access by 2018, and this clear and decisive timeline will reduce uncertainty for broadband companies and serve as an incentive to invest in increased bandwidth.
SB1003 (Relating to Information Technology), another of the administration’s bills, authorizes the CIO to conduct security audits and direct remedial actions, as necessary, in the management of the state’s cyber security.