HONOLULU (KHON2) – With buses no longer filled with students, a local non-profit organization is looking to use them for other purposes.
“The digital divide has always been there but I think this impact of COVID-19 has really shown that just like food, water, safety, internet access has become just as essential,” said David Miyashiro, Founding Executive Director of Hawaii Kids Can.
After seeing other states jump on the bandwagon, Miyashiro was inspired to get Wifi on Wheels rolling in Hawaii.
“Let’s solve two problems at once. We got these buses, let’s put some WiFi routers on them, let’s drive them out to populated areas that we know don’t have WiFi and just allow free access for families so they can access the digital learning that they need, if they need to do telehealth appointments, if they need to reconnect with loved ones.”
The Hawaii Kids Can organization hopes to have regional pilots setup and ready to go by the end of May.
“One is what I like to call kind of the modern day drive-thru movie theater model. So if you have a community center or a community mall with a vacant parking lot, set it up there within a 500 feet radius and have cars pull up. You can do your appointments, download whatever assignments you need and then you drive off when you’re good.”
Miyashiro says they’re still in the early stages of the project with funding being the next box to check. He hopes Wifi on Wheels can serve the community well past the Coronavirus pandemic.
“For a lot of students when the buses do start back up again and they’re used for field trips or used for sporting travel, now you already have it equipped with WiFi and maybe you’ll have students that can take care of their homework or reconnect with family using those new tools.”
Although the Coronavirus provided uncertain times, Miyashiro says he’s inspired by the community efforts he’s seen.
“I think that’s my whole takeaway from this COVID-19 experience where, yes it’s very challenging for so many of our communities but I think at the same time we’ve seen so many community organizations, local businesses, just concerned citizens stepping up to the plate and trying to work together to really complex challenges.”
For more information on the Wifi on Wheels project and the Hawaii Kids Can organization click here.