700 new computers coming to county government


A major technology overhaul for Hawaii County government will bring in 600 new desktop computers, 100 laptops and network and security upgrades.

The computers will cost about $900,000, while servers and network infrastructure at the West Hawaii Civic Center is running about $450,000, Burt Tsuchiya, program manager within the Information Technology Department, told the County Council Finance Committee on Thursday. He said all but $25,000 of the $450,000 is coming from federal grants.

The IT Department is currently working on the infrastructure for the new network, with plans to have the network infrastructure in place by June.

Following County Council approval Tuesday, IT plans to put the computers out for bid later this month, to be paid for over three years. If all goes as planned, the new computers will be installed by September.

“We’re trying to time it at the last minute so we can get the latest and greatest,” Tsuchiya said.

That was good news for Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille and other council members who work primarily out of the West Hawaii Civic Center.

“We are spending a great deal of money sitting and waiting for uploads,” Wille said.

Tsuchiya said the new computers, which will run Windows 7, will replace old computers throughout county government, many of which are 10 years old. Most are running Windows XP, an operating system that Microsoft Corp. will no longer support.

Most of the old computers have been worked so hard they’ll have to be scrapped. Any usable computers will be wiped clean of county data and given to county youth or senior programs, he said.

A three-year contract with Hawaiian Telcom for improved firewalls will add another layer of security to the new system.

The network upgrade, in addition to bringing faster Internet to the West Hawaii Civic Center, will create a backup Kona-Hilo network link, which can be deployed to temporarily plug a gap in the fiber-optic ring that doesn’t quite circle the island.

The network will provide a 20-megabit-per-second connection.

“The Internet connection is going to be a little bit slower, but at least it won’t knock out the network,” Tsuchiya said.

A break in the fiber-optic ring last fall resulted in a 20-hour Internet and cellphone outage along a 97-mile swath from Waikoloa to Pahala.

“Maybe we could put in more money so we don’t (have) these things happen in the future,” suggested Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha.

The department plans to meet with the state Office of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at the end of this month to address a long-term solution to the fiber-optic gap, Tsuchiya said.

The state DCCA in a recent report estimates closing the gap in the fiber-optic ring could cost $6 million.

The report recommends a collaboration of state and county government, along with private-sector providers, to complete the system with fiber-optic cabling, so the system would be easier to maintain, increase broadband speed and provide redundancy in an emergency.

In addition to providing communication security to the island, building capacity would benefit underserved communities near the gap, such as Volcano Village, Pahala, Naalehu, and the area between Keaau and Pahoa, the report says.