The island’s high-technology industry takes a huge infrastructure leap forward early next year, when several thousand square feet of new office space comes online.
At the West Kauai Technology Center’s phase two, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on 15,000 square feet of space in Waimea. Several tenants are eager to move in to that facility as early as next month.
In Lihu’e, workers are doing the same on 40,000 square feet of space at Kukui Grove Village West, at the building owned by the Wo family on the corner of Kaumuali’i Highway and Kalepa Road.
That will be new home to Solipsys Corporation’s Network Application Integration Facility (NAIF). “Solipsys” is short for “Solutions for Information Processing Systems,” and the new facility will be a third location on the island for the company, bringing its total Kaua’i employees to around 40, said Leslie Bailey, the company’s Kaua’i operations manager.
Its Waimea office supports operations at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, west of Kekaha, and its Halau Street location in Lihu’e Industrial Park phase one is a facility manufacturing the company’s Modular Command Post System (MCPS).
MCPS units are self-contained, portable command posts with built-in packages of telecommunications, computers, display screens and sensor screens, allowing military and security groups to quickly exercise command and control wherever and whenever needed (battlefields, sites of natural disasters or terrorist attacks, on ships or planes).
The 6,000-square-foot facility on Halau Street has already drawn other new businesses to the island, primarily subcontractors supplying components for the MCPS.
The NAIF at Kukui Grove, while funded by a U.S. Navy contract, has civilian applications as well, Bailey said.
“What we provide is information,” Bailey said, in NAIF’s case visual and detailed sensor information including number and movements of planes, ground troops, ships, and other data, on an international scale.
The NAIF is capable of displaying real-time information on every single airplane in the sky around the world, or filtering out from a display screen all but, for example, Air Force One.
Using information from flight plans, air traffic controllers can quickly determine if an aircraft is friend or foe, or has diverted from its filed flight plan, she explained.
The events on and after Sept. 11, 2001 raised the level of urgency to get a system such as this in place, she added.
Before nine-11, an air traffic controller saw only a specific geographic area on his or her screen. Once an aircraft left that geographic area, it also vanished from the controller’s screen.
Today, with all U.S. radars and satellite tracking systems tied together, a controller now can track a single plane, or many planes, through many geographic areas, she said.
The NAIF, also called a “hub,” as in “communications hub,” used to be ship-based, with information flowing through line-of-sight antennae, radios and other hardware.
Solipsys’ NAIF uses low-orbit satellites to rapidly transfer information to any Navy computer around the world, using special encryption information so that only authorized receivers can get the data, she said.
“Since it could be anywhere, why not Kaua’i?” she said of the company’s decision to locate the NAIF here. That gives the NAIF employees an additional perk of living in paradise, she said.
Bailey expects to receive the certificate of occupancy on NAIF next month, and the center fully operational by mid-March. At that time, it could house as many as 25 employees, and be capable of providing global information to global users 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for either actual or simulated situations.
For now, the main client is the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
But the system is also purposefully designed to have “dual-use capabilities,” or features that have both military and civilian applications. For example, information provided by NAIF can be beneficial in disaster management, homeland security, and other uses.
The system, for example, would allow disaster-management workers to get instant aerial photos of the entire island, and other streaming data as necessary, she explained.
The new facility will hire a mix of civilian and ex-military technicians, software engineers, and support personnel like administrative types, security personnel, janitors, and others, she said.
Bailey feels the Solipsys operations on Kaua’i have good growth potential, and the NAIF has already been responsible for generating five contracts to subcontractors that may be interested in setting up new businesses on the island.
Though Solipsys provides information to the nation’s defense structure now, Bailey and others hope the information will be used more to wage peace than to wage war.