PDC helps mentor Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows in planning for a resilient Maui

March 13, 2024

Sixteen fellows of the 2024 Ka Ipu Kukui cohort recently came together to address the challenge of building resilience for Maui County. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the annual Project Weekend was renamed Project Maui Nui to reflect its focus and purpose, as well as being responsive to the current needs of the county.

The 3-day workshop is specifically designed for the Fellows of Ka Ipu Kukui, a year-long program designed for community-identified, emerging leaders and conceived to address planning for Maui Nui’s future.

Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) partnered with MEDB to provide the cohort with background information to support them on the challenge. Tim Manning, Senior Advisor with PDC, presented a keynote on Resilient Communities. Tim has worked with White House administration for both Obama, and then during the Biden administration working on the COVID response. He gave a big picture presentation on resilience and data points to consider.

Dr. Erin Hughey, Director of Global Operations for PDC, spoke on the work they do in disaster management, including with the Maui wildfires; the PDC tools and resources available to help with risk mitigation; and the impacts of natural hazards on Hawaii. Joseph Green, PDC’s Director of Applied Science followed up with a presentation on ‘What is Resilience and How do we Measure it.’

PDC then led the cohort through a table-top exercise to help the fellows start to think from a stakeholder’s point of view on how to respond to a disaster and plan for the future.

Hui hoku Initiative were announced the winners of Project Maui Nui 2024. From left: Olena Alec, Jack Dowling, Becky Lind, and Matthew Lugo.

“We were very grateful to partner with Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) who went above and beyond as the subject-matter experts for the workshop. The presentations and table-top exercise helped to kick off the actual challenge with teams working on their solutions to build resilience. The PDC team acted as coaches on Day 2 to answer questions and provide guidance on their projects.”

— Annette Lynch, MEDB’s Director of Communications

According to Suharyanto, ASEAN should consider technological innovation in dealing with disaster threats, but the implementation should be in line with the local wisdom and cultures of each member country.

Teams presented their projects on the afternoon of Day 3 with a 10-minute Pitch to a panel of three judges — Henry “Hanale” Lindo, Assistant Chief, Maui Fire Department; Saumalu Mata’afa, Deputy Director, Department of Housing & Human Concerns; and Steven M. Sigler, PhD, Disaster Services NDPBA Specialist, Pacific Disaster Center.

Solutions included developing community hubs to facilitate response and communication; the use of drones for search and rescue and other emergency services; developing a food forest to enhance local sustainability; and deploying a digital bus concept to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to remote areas and during disasters.

Matthew Lugo of Privateer commented on his experience, “My overall experience with Project Maui Nui was excellent! It was great working with a diverse team with a wide skill set trying to tackle how to improve disaster resiliency on Maui. We had great advice and guidance from the advisors and team at PDC, and it was astounding how many great ideas we created and heard from the other teams.”

Lugo’s team, Hui Hoku Initiative, was announced as this year’s winner for their drone service solution. “I feel our team’s project solution truly can help Maui. It’s fairly simple — encourage more parties involved in disaster relief to use this available and cheap technology of drones in more innovative and frequent ways. Sometimes the best innovation is realizing that the capability is already out there and simply shifting protocol to use it.”

The Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows will continue to meet in monthly Halawai to further develop a holistic appreciation and understanding of Maui Nui’s unique challenges. As their May graduation approaches, recruitment for the 2025 Cohort will commence in late spring. Visit kaipukukuifellows.org to learn more.

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1982 with a mission to diversify Maui County’s economy, building pathways to innovation, jobs and opportunity for our residents. Through partnerships with the public and private sector, MEDB undertakes projects that assists growth industries with navigating and thriving in our county, educates and trains residents for new careers, and engages our community in forums that determine future economic directions.

The Ka Ipu Kukui cohort of 2024.

“Addressing the challenge of building resiliency in such a short time frame was both challenging and rewarding. Being able to come up with a feasible solution in two days gave a sense of achievement and allowed me to build deeper relationships with the members of the group.  I also appreciated that this gave us a chance to have informed, engaging, and insightful discussions about a critical issue affecting Maui and feasible solutions.”

—Brialyn Onadera, Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope staff

About PDC

Winner of the 2022 UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, the University of Hawai’i’s Pacific Disaster Center is a global leader in the application of life-saving disaster management science, early warning technology, and advanced analytics. Our risk intelligence products provide decision-makers with the essential insights and information needed to act early to protect communities from hazards and to build more sustainable, resilient communities for a safer world.

The Center’s DisasterAWARE technology is used by tens of thousands of disaster management practitioners around the globe. DisasterAWARE provides global, multi-hazard early warning and includes advanced situational awareness tools, the highest resolution all-hazards impact modeling, advanced analytics, and augmented information through artificial intelligence.

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