Monday, May 24, 2021 marked the roll out of the County of Hawai‘i IP Backhaul Project. This project will increase the network bandwidth for first responders and public safety communications from 1G to 100G using DWDM optical networking technology. Additionally, the 20+ year old microwave radio system will be replaced with a state-of-the art new microwave radio system and MPLS network that will provide higher availability and continuity of communications for first responders.

Local cultural practitioner, Kanani Aton provided guidance to Banyan Networks and the County of Hawai‘i to set the intentions of the project and ground us to our place and time in Hawai‘i’s history. Kanani provided an indigenous Hawaiian perspective of cordage, fiber, and technology and framed the project for our technicians, engineers, managers, users, and leadership.

Dave Swirsky of Banyan Networks, Scott Uehara of the Department of Information Technology, and Talmadge Magno of Civil Defense offered their words of support and operational involvement in launching this project for the County of Hawai‘i.

Dave Swirsky:

Thank you all for joining us today. This is a very exciting day as we begin the installations of the first equipment for the County’s IP Backhaul project. Many months of design work is behind us and very shortly the County will start to realize some of the investments it has made. This project will not only replace aging and end-of-life equipment, it represents a huge step forward technologically for the County. In addition to improving communications stability and availability, it offers the County the ability to take advantage of opportunities such as high-bandwidth applications, improved situational response for first responders and the Internet of Things. This will really set the County up for many years to come. We’re fortunate to work with most of the Counties in Hawaii and when this is complete, we really feel like the County of Hawaii is going to leapfrog some of our other neighboring counties in the state in terms of capability and resiliency if we have a natural disaster or an event.


So thank you all we’re excited to work with you folks as partners and we look forward to gathering when it’s all complete. Scott from IT, Department of Information Technology is going to say a couple words about the project.

Scott Uehara:

Everything that Dave said is pretty much what we’re doing with the network. The County is very excited about increasing our bandwidth, increasing our resiliency to support our County. So, thank you very much.

Dave Swirsky:

Talmadge, a few words on behalf of Civil Defense.

Talmadge Magno:

Well, you know when I came to the position in 2017, we were still working on the Radio system upgrade and conversion and now this is the next phase. I just want to put a shout out to Ron Solemsaas who is now the County Radio Manager. So from our side, the radio side also integrating IT and the microwave side, he’s the big push for us for our department. Let’s talk about the County, the State, all our partners on our systems – this is all critical for them. For Civil Defense, emergency response, everything that goes on on our island – thank you.

Group photo prior to the Hawaiian Blessing including leadership from the County of Hawaii, Kanani Aton, and Banyan Networks

Setting the intentions for the project kickoff of the CoH IP Backhaul Project that will increase the capacity of the County of Hawai‘i’s fiber backbone from 1G to 100G.

Banyan Networks and County of Hawaii Leadership

Banyan Networks and County of Hawai‘i Leadership

Banyan Networks' Network Engineer providing a technical overview of the project.

Banyan Networks’ Network Engineer providing a technical overview of the project.

Longtime no see!  Two friends who have mitigated several natural disasters together.

Longtime no see! Two friends who have mitigated several natural disasters together.

Testing Nokia DWDM Optical Networking equipment in the lab

Testing Nokia DWDM optical networking equipment in the lab prior to deploying in the field.

Kanani Aton:

Aloha kakahiaka Kākou – good morning between all of us, good morning amongst all of us, between us and over us really. What a great day to operationalize a project. What an epic project, a project truly of mythical proportions, and what I mean by that is;


Fiber was one of our first technologies that was actually so important to us as humans, here in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific and the world, that we actually have it memorialized in the sky, connected to one of our most important constellations called Manaiakalani or the Hook of Maui – Maui was a demi god who was able to use the cordage that was connected to that hook to actually fish the islands of Hawaii out of the sea.


So from this important story of mythological proportions, we can look up at the stars at night and gaze and understand that actually it’s a pointer – pointing to the first born marker of life – our umbilical cord, to Papahānaumoku, our mother earth and to our island origins here. To remember, that, as far and as wide as the technological reach can go we must remember that the origins of who we are and where we come from is our true connection to these resources that actually make all of this possible.


I want to pass this cordage around. I was going to bring some rudimentary Hau – which was just basic beginnings of cordage, but I thought I really should bring something of high-level expertise that matches what we’re doing here today.


This is actually made by the people in Satawal, where Papa Mau the Grandmaster Navigator comes from. He taught us how to remember wayfinding and navigating now to the point where we’re circumnavigating the world with our canoes, and the canoes are possible because of this. So I just want to pass this around – it comes from the people of Mau in Satawal. I’ve never taken it out of its packaging until today and I bought it years ago, but I feel like it’s just the perfect artifact for remembering the origin story of fiber. And so how nice it is to gather for a quiet pause, before major work is about to begin.


So important to gather ourselves and have a deep breath, gather our intentions, awareness and to bring our very best. So let’s breath in and let’s hanu aku breath out, breath in, hanu aku breath out.


Hanu mai a ha‘i a ha‘i ka pule means silence just to breathe while prayers are said a couple of times. That quote comes out of very ancient wisdom. These words come from a very old story about a boy who could supernaturally stretch himself upwards like a string a piece of fiber. In this story this chant is the first chant shared and it begins about the fishhook of Maui being Manaiakalani, this great hook is forever held in the night sky as the constellation also known as Scorpio.

Maui's Fish Hook and the Milky Way.

Maui’s Fishhook, Manaiakalani.  Image Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Guisard, TWAN


Not only is the hook’s name Manaiakalani, but the fiber that connects the hook. And the next time you look up, look for the Milky Way. When you see the Milky Way, the hook is actually capturing the Milky Way like a fish.


Indeed, this cord was fastened on Maui’s hook and was used to fish up our islands out of the deep sea. And in fact, in the myth, the cordage captures the earth itself. Because of fiber technology voyaging became possible, with steadfast lashing, keeping our earliest vessels together. Better shelter, better tools, protective clothing, even lashed altars for more prayers were possible because of fiber.

  • Prayers asking for insight into how to become better leaders for the people…
  • Prayers asking for how to capture the great technology of fire…
  • Prayers asking for foresight so plans could be laid out well with efficiency and care…
  • Prayers for support, healing, health, assistance, and heartfelt truth imbued with aloha…
  • Prayers for gratitude, blessings, and the expansion of true understanding.


Such is the intention of our prayer today, gratitude for the original supernatural technology of cordage forever held up in the starry skies for us to remember how long this lineage. Lineage connected all the way to today, making way for the room to create a greater future of more communication, more understanding that helps us execute greater decision making on the fly…or even in quiet and planful reflection that leaders often need to take in preparation for their workday…or their family day…or their own day of self-care, this fiber is threaded into these plans all the time…and we are grateful.


Let us pule. Hanu mai…hanu aku…hanu mai…hanu aku…


Pule (Hawaiian Prayer) by Kanani Aton



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