State launches AlohaSafe Alert app

  • Contributed by Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative

    A social media flier of the new AlohaSafe Alert app used by the DOH to help decrease the infection of COVID-19 statewide.

LIHU‘E — The Hawai‘i State Department of Health in partnership with aio Digital and the Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative have launched AlohaSafe Alert, an exposure notification app to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Masks, distance, and vaccines are all valuable tools against COVID-19,” DOH Director Dr. Libby Char said. “AlohaSafe Alert app is another important tool in the fight against COVID-19. This innovative app was developed for the community, by the community, and it has the potential to greatly increase the speed of the exposure notification process, allowing anyone who receives an alert to quickly self-quarantine and gets tested if needed.”

Hawai’i joins 17 other states and 19 countries in authorizing the Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system that uses Bluetooth technology to measure the closeness and duration of signals between enrolled smartphones.

AlohaSafe Alert will anonymously and privately send notifications within 48 hours if an app user comes into close contact — within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes — with an individual who tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days.

The AlohaSafe Alert was first piloted on Lana‘i and in Hana on Nov. 17 and expanded to Maui County on Dec. 16. The app has been downloaded more than 14,000 times, according to the state.

“When Lana‘i experienced a surge in COVID cases, AlohaSafe Alert was critical in helping us to control the spread,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said. “Maui County strongly believes these types of technological advances can help us get the upper hand in the fight against COVID-19.”

Preliminary results and learnings from other states and countries show that, coupled with other measures, if only 15% of the population were to use AlohaSafe Alert, COVID-19 infections could be reduced by 8% and deaths by 6%.

“The effectiveness of AlohaSafe Alert is dependent on our residents downloading the app and we urge our community to seize this opportunity to further protect each other,” Representative Linda Ichiyama, chair of the House Committee on Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness said. “The legislature sees this app as a critical tool our state can deploy to proactively help us control the spread of COVID-19.”

Gov. David Ige encouraged everyone to get it on their phone.

“AlohaSafe Alert will help to empower our residents to protect themselves, their families, and their community,” Ige said. “We appreciate the partnership formed between DOH and the private sector to develop this useful tool and help Hawaii remain one of the states with the lowest infection rates in the country. I strongly urge everyone to download this free app so they can receive notifications as quickly as possible in the event of an exposure.”

The state is now working with Kaua‘i to reach the island’s residents as best as they can.

“There may be other notification apps, but AlohaSafe Alert is the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s official exposure notification,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said. “Please consider downloading this app to add another layer of safety to help protect your loved ones and our community.”

Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman welcomes the app for Kaua‘i’s community.

“AlohaSafe is an additional tool to support effective and timely case investigation and contact tracing,” Berreman said. “It is a great example of public/private collaboration. Participation is entirely voluntary and the app is free to download.

“The greater the participation, the greater the impact of this tool is likely to be. DOH is incorporating AlohaSafe into our operations statewide, including on Kaua’i,” Berreman added.

Lynelle Marble, executive director of HEC, said so far the app project was funded by private donors that contributed over $115,000 dollars since last year, and if more individuals use it, it can help the state decrease COVID-19 outcomes.

Some residents may be concerned and wonder if it will be utilized by a larger community, but Marble explains how they will address that issue and reach broader participation.

“We will have a paid media campaign and in addition, we are doing a lot of community one on one engagements-community meetings, town hall conversations and we are beginning to work with the mayors while sharing a tool kit with businesses and passing out flyers and posters,” Marble said.

Nicole Velasco, a volunteer with AlohaSafe echoed Marble and the program’s future campaigning efforts.

“It really is a credit to the community for asking for this app-our stakeholders, and our elected officials for inviting us into their communities,” Velasco said. “Leveraging social media to broadly reach our communities as best as we can and of course by coconut wireless and do that until we can reach as much as possible.”

The app is available on Google Play or Apple App Store. For more information visit alohasafealert.org.

Other key features of AlohaSafe Alert include:

• Participants may opt in/out at any time;

• The app allows smartphones to interact and exchange anonymous codes that are frequently changed, but it does not keep track of any geo-location or GPS data;

• Only DOH authorities will have access to data, and all data will be kept anonymous;

• Should you test positive for COVID-19, your identity is kept private from anyone who receives an alert, and their identities are kept private from you;

• AlohaSafe Alert is interoperable with other similar official notification apps in other states and those apps can also be used by visitors to Hawai’i.

9 Comments
  1. Baa Baa January 7, 2021 6:10 am Reply

    Yes that’s right folks, now Big Brother Can track all the sheep in the pen, regardless of your integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and Aloha lifestyle, while minding your own business, no matter what, those kn control of society will know your every move, including bowel.


  2. who is ? January 7, 2021 6:30 am Reply

    And just who is Dr. Janet Berreman, who does she work for, the .Mayor?, o’r the Vaccine companies, Pfizer?, What are her credentials, degrees, post grad certifications, where did she work before Kauai?

    what makes her a so-callled expert in the field of health, because merely dispensing prescription drugs for a living in some remote part of the world may not qualify for expertise in shutting down our island economy, especially separate from the other Islands’ requirements, and even. more especially so closing our businesses, our employment, our freedoms, and denying us Herd Immunity, and our individual strengthening of our individual annual immune response necessary for next year’s seasonal flu cycle.

    And now she wants to be able to track our every individual move on island, off island, or in our homes, while it sounds innocent from the get go, but where exactly does it go from here? Your own individual government tracking map to keep watch on each of us like we’re a storm becoming a hurricane? Loss of Liberty leads to those in control having. more control of loss of oir Fod given Freedoms.


    1. Makani B. Howard January 8, 2021 10:30 am Reply

      Where have you been?

      You don’t know who Dr. Berreman is? Haven’t you seen or listened to ANY of the Mayor’s addresses?


  3. Spirit of Kokua January 7, 2021 7:28 am Reply

    This past summer, at Turtle Lodge in Manitoba, a sacred Anishinaabe lodge of traditional teaching and wellness, Indigenous knowledge keepers from coast to coast met and discussed challenges affecting their communities and the world. Their main concern was a disconnect of people from the land and its lessons. In that rupture, like a break in the body’s immune system, sickness has crept. Opiate and alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression. COVID-19. We can learn from the line of inquiry of some traditional healers, who instead of asking their patients first about their pain, start with a more direct question: Who are you?

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-real-cure-for-covid-is-renewing-our-fractured-relationship-with


  4. KauaiFarmMan January 7, 2021 10:09 am Reply

    Welcome to the surveillance state. This is a precursor to a Chinese style social credit score. An app that tracks everyone we come in contact with and how much time we spend. Geez can’t think of how that could be used against us. Everyone is running so scared they are willing to give up any freedom we had left. Freedom over security. This threat is not great enough to allow the a government to track our every move. Can’t travel freely, can’t go out in public without your face covered now an app that tracks our every movement. This is an absolute travesty. What happened to our right to choose. Seems like we can’t do anything unless our masters tell us. When you all wake up it will be too late.


  5. Rick January 7, 2021 4:49 pm Reply

    NO THREAT IS GREAT ENOUGH TO ALLOW GOVERNMENT TO TAKE OUR FREEDOM.


  6. LMat January 7, 2021 5:38 pm Reply

    Wow. The comments here are pretty ignorant and ridiculous.
    This app does NOT track you. Did any of you take the time to actually read the article? Especially the part where it says: “…it does not keep track of any geo-location or GPS data.” Talk about sheep…


  7. I saw a Vampire once January 7, 2021 10:10 pm Reply

    I had the pleasure of testing this application on my iPhone SE 2020 new mobile phone. It was at a shopping center. If you come in 6 feet of a infected person who chose to participate, m phone would have beeped my a reading on notification, infected user with in grounds. No one beeped me.


  8. I saw a Vampire once January 7, 2021 10:13 pm Reply

    It would have said, infected user around. But my identity to that person, would not be given out. This is how this application works. You have to enable it first, then it will be activated to perform the operation. Both sides.


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