Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Task Force Publishes Report on Broadband

According to the Hawaii Broadband and Task Force Initial Report recently published for the Governor and others in the state, the Broadband Task Force wants to see more promising high-speed broadband applications used in the state. Hawaii presents geographic challenges to installing broadband that differs from other states.

For example, Hawaii needs inter-island fiber optic systems to provide advanced broadband capabilities; however, these submarine systems are much more expensive than the terrestrial fiber systems for intra-state infrastructure used elsewhere. Additionally, since Hawaii is a long distance from the mainland and Asia, Hawaii is reliant on expensive trans-Pacific fiber optic systems. Unfortunately, the most recent fiber optic systems constructed to connect Asia to the U.S. have all bypassed Hawaii.

There are several existing e-Health broadband applications such as:

  • A $10 million Weinberg Foundation grant linking Health Systems Corporation hospitals with healthcare facilities on Oahu is now completed

  • The Veterans Administration main clinic at TAMC in Hawaii, offers telemedicine consultations at peripheral clinics on Kauai, Maui, the Big Island in Hilo and Kona, and in American Samoa and Guam. Specialists are available in dermatology, dietetics, cardiology, general surgery, vascular surgery, orthopedic surgery, endocrinology, psychology, and psychiatry. Remote viewing of electronic health records, images, along with the use of remote tele-pharmacy is available.

  • The Pacific Island Health Care Initiative part of Tripler’s activities supports “store and forward” web-based telemedicine consultations to clinicians in rural areas in Hawaii and western U.S./western Pacific. The electronic ICU system can link Tripler intensive care experts with intensive care units in Guam and Korea.

  • Access Grid an initiative led by the National Computational Science Alliance to support educational activities and clinical and diagnostic applications is being used by the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii and at Tripler

  • A federal grant of $4.9 million will be used to build a broadband network over three years to link 96 rural and urban healthcare providers throughout Hawaii and the Pacific island region. The project will interconnect the State Telehealth Access Network to several others serving the state government and the University of Hawaii. The project will also interconnect networks of the Department of Health, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the Hawaii Pacific Health System, the Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Health Care System, and the American Samoa Medical Center

  • A DOD funded demonstration project called the Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly Avian Flu Grid Program brings together investigators from University of Hawaii, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, and China to develop a computational grid platform to study H5N1 avian influenza virus. The project is developing not only the methods to study the molecules computationally, but is studying how broadband communications systems can share data and computational capacity

During 2008, the task force plans to research how many states have initiated broadband data collection projects, their placement within the government structure, the nature of any regulatory changes that states have made, have any states created a unified telecom authority to drive broadband deployment, how many states have dark fiber networks for research and education that are tied into national networks, what drove these direct investments in advance broadband infrastructure, what states have passed legislation to improve competitive access to rights-of-way, and will any states drive the deployment of Fiber-to-the-Home or will telecommunication and cable companies provide the investment needed.

The task force hopes that the interim report will help the 2008 legislation make future plans for high-speed broadband applications to benefit Hawaii. In addition, the task force will continue to monitor the federal landscape to help guide the actions needed by Hawaii to maximize opportunities.

For further information and a copy of the Task Force Interim Report, go to http://www.hbtf.org/ or go to www.state.hi.us/auditor/meetings.htm. For details on the Internet Innovation Alliance White Paper “Advancing Healthcare Through Broadband: Opening up a World of Possibilities”, email Neal Neuberger, President neal@hlthtech.com.