Category Archives: infrastructure

#PTC15 – NHK 8K Super Hi-Vision

  PTC15 8K Demo More pixels, faster pixels and better pixels were the key message points from NHK's demonstration of their 8K broadcast system in Japan. The Japanese public broadcaster announced their plans to skip 4K and go straight to 8K. At a resolution of 7680x4320, screens pack in an ultra high definition image of 33 megapixels per frame, at a frame rate of 120Hz. The details in the demo reel were amazingly clear, but you would expect nothing less.
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NHK 8K Demonstration
As a broadcaster, NHK aims to test in 2016 and in 2018 provide commercial broadcasting with a goal in 2020 to cover the Tokyo Olympics. The demonstration is less about the television monitors to display the content - there are a lot of manufacturers optimizing displays. Instead NHK is working out the transmission requirements. They estimate 100Mbps circuits for streaming content. But that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as infrastructure goes. Between the content creation and the receivers there are satellites, cable, wired and wireless systems, data centers and content delivery networks to consider. All of this infrastructure still needs to be built in order for widespread 8K delivery to succeed. In the U.S. we are still asking ourselves where the 4K content is, let alone ubiqutious high speed broadband. As lofty a goal as NHK has set, at least Japan is pushing the limit of this technology, 2018 will come sooner than you think and if successful will leap frog systems in the U.S.

Hawaii Broadband Initiative

Hawaii Broadband Initiative On the campus of the University of Hawaii this week, Governor Abercrombie announced a broadband initiative to provide statewide access to affordable 1Gb Internet access by 2018. The initiative is said to be key in building a vibrant and sustainable economy and workforce in Hawaii. Already underway and spearheaded by the University of Hawaii is the implementation of a gigabit network to connect educational institutions like all the public schools, public libraries and every public university and college campus in the State -- fueled by funding from ARRA monies. This new Hawaii Broadband Initiative addresses high speed Internet access for the residential and commercial market and seeks to align the regulatory framework to expedite the permitting process and to encourage public and private investment and partnership to achieve what the Governor called "transformative infrastructure." The broadband initiative is being led by the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and is supported by the state's Chief Information Officer and the University of Hawaii. At the tip of the spear for this initiative, the Governor has positioned Keali'i Lopez of the DCCA and Richard Lim of DBEDT. Lopez has tapped Everett Kaneshige to work specifically on this initiative. Everett Kaneshige, Deputy Director of DCCA, said that they are forming a group within DCCA to look at the regulatory environment for broadband infrastructure and come up with ways to streamline the process. The group is funded by a grant from the Federal Gov't. and covers 2 years of operation. Kaneshige also said, "It's not about building all new infrastructure. We are looking at ways we can work with the telephone company and the cable company to leverage their existing cabling and encourage where appropriate the upgrade to high speed fiber." The situation in DBEDT is problematic. The department does not have funding to add any additional headcount and current personnel already have their plates full according to Richard Lim, Director of DBEDT. His plan is to use Yuka Nagashima in HTDC to lead the charge and develop the public/private partnerships and investments that will bring this initiative to reality. We will monitor developments and report on the progress of meeting this goal of affordable, 1Gb access speed to the Internet by 2018.

Ke Ala `Ike – Pathway to Knowledge

Ke Ala `Ike - Pathway to Knowledge was a vision born out of the mid-90s from a project called the Hawaii Education and Research Consortium (HENC).This consortium then help to form the Hawaii Research and Education Network (HREN) with National Science Foundation funding. It has always been the vision of people like David Lassner to provide the best connectivity to the public educational entities in the State of Hawaii. And like any infrastructure project it takes time for all the resources, like funding to properly line up. Last September another major milestone was achieved when the University of Hawaii was awarded several grants totaling $34M to build out broadband infrastructure in the state of Hawai through the NTIA and ARRA funding sources. On our show last week Cliff Miyake, General Manager at TW Telecom announced that their company won the contract to install two 10 G circuits for Internet access. The central component of this project is the acquisition of a pair of 10 Gigabit per second optical network circuits on the new Asia America Gateway (AAG) cable connecting Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. At the Hawaii end, these circuits will be connected from the AAG cable landing site on Oahu near Kahe Point to the Hawaii Research and Education Network. From the mainland landing site at Morro Bay, California, the AAG circuits will be connected to the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California's (CENIC's) Pacific Wave facility in Los Angeles and to Pacific NorthWest GigaPOP's (PNWGP's) Pacific Wave facility in Seattle. Both the Seattle and Los Angeles locations are peering points for major U.S. and international research and education networks. These circuits will provide Hawaii's educational institutions with 20Gbps of connectivity between the HREN, major U.S. research and education networks, such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail, and international networks in countries around the Pacific Rim. What I find especially interesting is that this funding finally enables the University of Hawaii the ability to build their own fiber optic network. There was a time when broadband circuits were the sole domain of the major telecom providers like, Verizon and Hawaiian Telcom. That obviously is no longer the case. You now have the competitive local exchange carriers like TW Telecom and Wavecomm Solutions and companies that build their own private networks like Hawaiian Electric. Although consumer Internet access rates will remain status quo in the near term, I can soon see Lassner saying he has achieve parity with Internet access speeds equal to or better than those in South Korea. It's an achievement well deserved and a long time in the making.

Tech in Arita, Japan

This is just a short post while I sit in the hotel lobby on the only Internet workstation in the hotel. I am currently in Arita, Japan, a city known for its porcelin ceramics. Very beautiful stuff and a great history on how the skill was brought to Japan. While in a old historic building converted to a musuem they told us where the toilets were and that they were very high tech. I have pictures and will post them later. This toilet had a control panel to manage all manner of function. It was complex enough that you had to figure out which button flushed it. Very impressive. Right next to the restrooms was this 21st century elevator with a cut in to the side of the two story building. It showed the bamboo scaffolding from the original structure. That is it for now. I like this free internet workstation but need to move on. The only thing missing from this hotel is the wifi access. So far, no wifi to speak of on the path we're taking through Kyushu. Japan 2010**Nov. 21, 2010 - Just uploaded a bunch of photos from my Japan trip. Here is the control panel from the toilet I was referring to. Gone are the days with just the single flush handle (unless of course you are living in the U.S.). This photo as all the instructions necessary to operate the toilet. Being that I cannot read Japanese, I resorted to pressing all the buttons. I also mentioned the elevator in this restored building. In this photo you can see a cutaway of the wall where they built the elevator. If you look closely you can see the bamboo used in construction. The elevator needed a lot more than bamboo to hold it up. I thought it was nice how they highlighted the traditional with the modern in this display.

#EatLocalHI

#EatLocalHI 2010This past week was quite a learning experience participating in the Kanu Hawaii Eat Local Challenge. To be conscientious about sourcing locally produced foods is a challenge and has to be well planned out. In our eat and run culture, I found myself slowing down a bit to think about what markets to go to and which restaurants might offer a local dish. On Sunday, Sept 26, I started off by picking up several local favorites from Foodland Pearl City. Poi, Okinawan sweet potato, local kim chee, lau lau and poke were on my list. This was to at least take care of three evening dinners. I asked the fish department folks at Foodland if the poke was local and they said only if it said fresh. And on this day, nothing was fresh. All the fish was from either China, Taiwan or the Philippines. I thought about Tamashiro Market but never made it out to Palama. Convenience is still a big factor in what we eat and for me eating choices are made based on convenience and price. Foodland fit the bill. I did have to sacrifice on variety for my dinners but did get a treat when I was able to get some local white crab. Three medium size crabs made for a good alternative to lau lau for one of those days. Also a buddy at work brought in a hand of apple bananas for everyone in the office. That was a great and perfect for breakfast along with my non-local coffee from Papua New Guinea (via Costco). Lunches are a challenge especially if you are going to bring a home lunch. I tried one day with okinawan sweet potatoes, dried ahi and an apple banana, but the rest of the week was bought lunches. Honolulu Burger Co. did a great job with a Eat Local Special burger, very flavorful and the mushroom was to die for. An added bonus for mentioning Kanu was free fries and a drink. Worth it for $10. Next was Downtown @ HISAM. It was the Sept. monthly Bytemarks Lunch so it was good reason to talk tech and support #EatLocalHI. I had their Eat Local special which was a fish dish featuring opah and local vegetables. Wow, this combo was a like a punch in the taste buds. The fish as ono but the local radishes were overpowering. I enjoyed it but, not sure if I would order it again and at $16 we're getting up in price. On Friday the Kaimuki Lunch Bunch had a #EatLocalHI lunch tweetup at Big City Diner. Good turn out and BCD's special was mahimahi with local vegetables like baby bok choy, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes with a light cream sauce. Perfect combo for a fish dish and at a price of $13 it was a bargain not to mention @bcdlane threw in the edamame appetizer and decadent chocolate dessert. Obvious going out to lunch like this is not something I can financially sustain but I didn't think the price of the local selections were out of the norm for a sit down restaurant lunch. What I think this challenge brought to my attention was that with some simple choices you could support the local agriculture business. Next time you are at the market, buy some local produce like sweet potatoes, onions, baby bak choy or some local eggs, beef and fresh fish. I'll pay a little more attention the next time I make my purchase. If we all did, maybe we could show the local food producer there's a market out there and help encourage Hawaii's local food industry. It might be our first step toward food sustainability.

UH Hilo gets Beacon Grant

The University of Hawaii at Hilo, College of Pharmacy will be one of the recipients of the Beacon Community program to build and strengthen health IT infrastructure and health information exchange capabilities. UH-Hilo's $16M grant was part of an overall grant totaling $220M from the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Hawaii Island was one of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology. According to UH-Hilo's proposal description, their goal is to:
Implement a region-wide Health Information Exchange and Patient Health Record solution and utilize secure, internet-based care coordination and tele-monitoring tools to increase access to specialty care for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in this rural, health-professional shortage area.
Back in March we had both Karen Pelligrin and Christine Sakuda on Bytemarks Cafe to talk about the Hawaii Health Information Exchange and how it will be implemented. Karen Pelligrin is with UH-Hilo's College of Pharmacy and Program Director of Hawaii Island's Beacon grant project. The system will include patient information from Big Island physicians, health centers, island hospitals, labs and claims information to improve coordination with health providers. Microsoft's Amalga is the planned IT system to facilitate information communicated amongst participants. On a national level,  all 15 Beacon Communities will tackle specific goals of improving health care and population health status through advanced use of IT. The communities will work closely with regional technology extension centers created and funded under HITECH, as well as state health information exchange initiatives, like the Hawaii Health Information Exchange and the National Health Information Technology Research Center to ensure the dissemination of lessons learned.

Oceanic Cable Launches 3D

Oceanic Cable 3D service Oceanic Time Warner Cable and Sony Electronics held a joint press conference showcasing consumer 3D television viewing. If you have digital cable and select channel 1217 you can watch highlights from the Masters Gold Tournament in 3D beginning today through April 30, 2010. You will also need a 3D television.  Oceanic plans to roll out out more 3D programming over the summer. In addition, Sony will roll out their 3D Bravia LCD TV in the summer. In the meantime, Sony is outfitting hospitality suites in Augusta, GA with the monitor and holding "private screens" across the country. While at the press conference Nate Smith, President of Oceanic Time Warner Cable, talked about supporting 3D with the existing network and implied delivering 3D is an additional demand on the cable network. I pulled Met Lebar, Transmission Systems Director on the side and asked him if Oceanic will have to build out the infrastructure to support 3D. He said not at all. The 3D signal requires about 15Mb of bandwidth which is what is delivered over their current digital service. I am curious how many televisions this service can support in one household. I suspect it is only a couple since delivering 3D on one tv and HD on another will require more than 15Mb. Met also mentioned that this service was available 10 years ago but at that time the major television manufacturers were not building 3D monitors. The ones that did were ahead of their time and have since gone out of business. An element that has not changed from the 3D experience is the requirement to wear 3D glasses. Sony requires these Active Shutter Glasses that run on batteries and communicates with the 3D LCD monitor. The active shutter switches very rapidly depending on the content being viewed. The glasses are heavy and costs around $133. Karl Okemura, Sr. Vice President at Sony Hawaii, said two glasses will be provided with the purchase of a 3D Bravia LCD but did not say how much the monitor would cost. Gizmodo puts this price around $3900. Just like the first generation HD televisions, these 3D monitors are expensive but will likely go down in price as more units are sold.

Hawaii’s CIO

ICThawaiiWhen we first reported on the State's Task Force on Reinventing Government, I was a little skeptical as to what would become of it. Do these things end up on someone's shelf collecting dust or are they the impetus for action? One of the reports findings was the recognized need for a Chief Information Officer for the State system. The following section is directly from the report: Information Technology Recommendations (1) Establish a new senior position reporting to the Comptroller to be the State's Chief Information Officer. Currently, the head of the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) serves as both the Comptroller and Chief Information Officer (CIO). The Task Force recommends that the two roles be separated into two job positions. The new CIO position should be budgeted at market compensation. The CIO's responsibilities would include:
  • (a) Supervision of the Information and Communications Services Division (ICSD).
  • (b) Developing and implementing a three-year statewide Strategic Information Technology Plan (SITP) that would include the consolidation into ICSD of all hardware, operating software, related positions, and budgets for all IT and communications within the Executive Branch of state government and provide service level agreements (SLAs) to those departments.
  • (c) Reporting, at least annually, to the Legislature on the SITP's progress, and submission of a consolidated IT capital budget for the Executive Branch, as well as a report on the performance under all SLAs.
  • (d) Formulating a charter and chairing a monthly governance committee, to include all state senior IT CIOs (including Department of Education, University of Hawaii, the Judiciary, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and state hospitals), and providing the Legislature with an annual executive summary of projected and achieved budgetary savings, operational synergies, customer service enhancements, state productivity gains, and security improvements generated from the joint collaboration. This governance committee would also be responsible for the development of an annual master state IT budget and vision, as well as standards for IT job classifications; staff training, development, and certification; career path and staff retention goals; customer service and productivity targets; SLA performance targets; customer service survey results; and data management warehousing and disaster recovery planning.
(2) Request that the Legislature explore establishing a dedicated funding source for the CIO position. Given the monumental task of consolidating all of the State's separate ICSDs and their associated hardware and operating software and of converting all departmental local area networks (LANs)-so that they can communicate and share data, it is imperative that the State be committed to maintaining the CIO position through a dedicated funding source. A dedicated funding source will ensure the continuation of the position and thereby increase the likelihood of achieving program goals and concomitantly ensuring long-term benefits and cost savings to the State. Several articles have appeared about the report. A Business Week article at the end of January was the first to be published. In February this article was written in the Government Technology website. Both referencing the report, speaking to the need for a consolidated approach to information technology in the State system of departments. Each of these were written from a news wire perspective. Not so in this recent post by John Savageau in his blog Technology Innovation Topics which was also picked up by WebSphere Journal. In it, Savageau brings his own keen eye for technical detail and the experience that comes with building and supporting data centers around the world. I know him from the work he did with Level 3, Pihana (now DR Fortress) and One Wilshire in Los Angeles. The article is a great read and brings attention to the dire need for our State to get serious about Information Technology. We've got the bandwidth (although we could always use more). We've got the brain power. I see the kind of excellent IT work that goes on in corporations like the one I work at and I am convinced we have the talent here in Hawaii. We just need the vision and commitment to to see this through. The jury is still out on whether the report will create any real substantive change but it is interesting to watch bills like SB2548 move through the legislature. I will be very interested to see this position get created but more so with who would ultimately fill the role. Hawaii is at a point of critical change. Will we be positioned (in the middle of the Pacific) to have the right infrastructure, like IT and broadband, to compete with the rest of the world? Stay tuned.

Hawaii’s First Charging Station

Green Energy OutletIt's the classic "chicken or the egg" problem. Which came first? Is it the electric car or the charging stations? As Mike Leone of HIEV explains, customers are weary of buying an electric car because of the lack of charging stations and businesses are hesitant to install charging stations because there are so few electric cars. Enter into the picture, Frank Rogers of Green Energy Outlet (GEO). Together with Leone, they install solar panels on the roof of GEO, tie it into the electric grid and install the first ChargePoint smart plug-in for recharging. It's the first in Hawaii and the first of a wave of charging stations that, if you imagine one-day, being as easily accessible as gas stations currently are. The idea is that these charging stations can be anywhere the electric grid is. These can be installed in parking lots, gas stations and businesses. A driver simply pulls up to one of them and plugs in their car. Understandably the adoption rate is slow. You can think of it like when we went from horse and buggy to the automobile. (I'm too young but I can image.) The infrastructure to install a gas pump must have been substantial. Each gas station requires a huge tank to be buried and the plumbing installed necessary to dispense the gasoline. Now look at the proliferation of gas stations, there's one on and across every street. It will one day be the same way with charging stations, if of course the electric car takes off. That may still be a ways off. Hybrids extend the life of gasoline as a portable fuel source. Cars like the Toyota Prius recharge their batteries through regenerative braking and the gasoline engine. They never need to be plugged in. The major auto manufacturers have put so much development into the gasoline powered car it will be some time before they transition completely away from that fuel source. Honda has hinted about a 100% electric vehicle (EV) to be available in 2015. So perhaps by mid-decade we will start to see a sea change of EV automobiles on road. Nevertheless, this charging station at GEO is a significant first step in the right direction. Hats off to the pioneers like Mike Leone and Frank Rogers who are bold enough to make their vision real.

Broadband in Hawaii

HSTC 2nd FridayDavid Lassner presented the results of the Broadband Taskforce findings in this month's Hawaii Science and Technology Council (HSTC) meeting. The taskforce was put together by the Legislature in 2007 to provide a recommendation on what should be done to develop broadband access in Hawaii. In 2008 the taskforce completed their final report and submitted it to the Legislature. Even the Governor got behind a broadband initiative. During the 2009 session SB895 was introduced to establish the Communications Commission which ultimately did not pass. In an effort to build momentum and awareness going into the 2010 legislative session the HSTC is dedicating their next three monthly breakfast meetings to the topic of broadband in Hawaii. I was able to record David's talk and make it available here. The primary take away is the if Hawaii is to stay competitive with the world, focus needs to be placed on having a Statewide focus on establishing a broadband strategy and focusing on it. Like the transportation system, broadband is essential infrastructure that cuts across all sectors of the economy. The stark realization is that Hawaii is almost dead last in all the broadband surveys conducted by various organizations assessing nationwide performance. We obviously have our work cut out for us. [podcast]http://www.roughtake.com/bc_podcasts/Broadband_in_Hawaii.mp3[/podcast]