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A Maui-based program to develop software for military applications gets a $300 million boost.

Photo: Courtesy of Maui Research and Technology Park

Digging into the Virtual Sandbox

A Maui-based program to develop software for military applications gets a $300 million boost. 

Online since mid-2011, the data center acts as a virtual “development sandbox” for all healthcare-related software applications being built for medical services provided to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Veterans Administration.

“If you’re testing a car, you need a race track or obstacle course,” said Aimoku McClellan, chief executive officer of Hawaii-based Pelatron, which built and operates the Integrated Test and Evaluation Center at the Maui Research and Technology Park. “We create an environment in which that software will be applied, providing access to military health systems and making sure the application will be compatible.”

Behind glass walls in a nondescript room in Kihei, Maui, rows of floor-to-ceiling data servers hum and blink—quietly hosting top-secret military data.

Photo: Courtesy of Maui Research and Technology Park

The test center falls under the umbrella of the Pacific Joint Information Technology Center, an entity that allows Department of Defense applications to be quickly developed, tested and primed for roll-out.

“The intent is to bring value to the war fighter in the area of health technologies and to do the work in Maui and Hawaii,” said Stanley Saiki, who oversees biotechnology projects for the federal program.

With a priority for funding projects developed on Maui, the JITC is credited with attracting 12 companies new to Maui to set up shop in the park within the past year, and creating about 75 new high-tech jobs since 2010.

“It’s intended to be an outlet to expedite IT through rapid application development and delivery to get the applications into hands sooner,” said Matt Granger, vice president of operations and chief technology officer for Maui-based IT firm Akimeka, which originally developed the Pacific JITC in the early 2000s and is now a prime contractor for the center.

“Akimeka … created an entity which the Department of Defense valued enough to incorporate it into its ongoing core budget,” Saiki said. “When this funding shift occurred in 2010, management of the Pacific JITC was transferred to the federal government,” which then sited the center at the Maui Research & Technology Park.

This year, the Department of Defense set up a contract funding mechanism allowing for a maximum of $300 million to be spent on projects to be developed in the JITC’s virtual test lab.

Seven main contracts were awarded to companies that are either Hawaii-based or have teams of subcontractors in Hawaii: ASM Research, Akimeka, Eleu Pacific, Northrop Grumman, Smartronix, Longview Inc. and Keaki Tech. So far, three task orders totaling $37 million have been funded.

“Information technology is definitely a cluster in Maui now,” said Jeanne Skog, president and chief executive officer of the Maui Economic Development Board.  “The JITC program having rooted itself here and coming with funding for companies has spurred so much growth.” 



Battlefield Medicine? There’s an App for That

A major project under the federal government’s Pacific Joint Information Technology Center has been Maui-based Akimeka’s work digitizing military medical records and creating an integrated data warehouse for deployed soldiers.

The project has meant that, since 2004, treatment providers in the field can access and track a soldier’s medical records electronically, from the point of injury to aid stations to evacuation to hospital care and rehabilitation.

“All of that information is then available to (the Veterans Administration), which expedites claims for disability,” said Matt Granger, Akimeka’s vice president of operations.

Having an electronic database of combat injuries has also helped improve body armor and facilitates the tracking of medical populations such as amputees and those with vision or hearing injuries.

“In terms of what we owe vets and this generation that’s been fighting these wars, this is a very important step that is saving lives and providing continuity of care they deserve,” Granger said.


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