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Posted on: December 17, 2020

AlohaSafe app officially launches for use in Maui County

The AlohaSafe Alert app officially launches today in Maui County, the first County in the State of Hawaii to have this resource available to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“This free exposure notification app has already undergone successful pilot testing on Lanai and in Hana, and we are pleased to have it expanded to everyone in Maui County to increase detection of the virus and slow the spread of the disease,” Mayor Michael Victorino said. “The AlohaSafe app helps people know that they might have been exposed to the virus and should consider getting tested as soon as possible. This is especially important now as our community awaits the broad distribution of the vaccine against the virus.”

Pilot testing of the app on Lanai and in Hana began Nov. 11. So far, there have been more than 7,000 downloads of the app.

The Hawai`i State Department of Health, aio Foundation, the Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative and others partnered to create this app as a tool to fight COVID-19.

“We’re thankful for the partnership and support from Mayor Victorino and Maui County leaders because adoption of the app by residents will be key to maximizing the potential of AlohaSafe Alert,” said Lynelle Marble, executive director of Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative, the nonprofit organization helping to lead the rollout of the app to communities across the state. “Based on studies from the University of Oxford, for every two app users, one infection can be avoided. Our hope is that our residents will take the opportunity to use AlohaSafe Alert as an additional layer of safety to help mitigate the spread of the virus.” 

The application is free and can be downloaded now from the Apple Store or Google Play. It is part of a nationwide effort by public health authorities and leading technology firms to assist in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The voluntary app protects the privacy of individuals – no personal data ever leaves the phone – unless the owner chooses to share the information with the Department of Health. User identities are protected.

Mayor Victorino said Maui County has been pushing for technological advances such as this for the protection of our residents and visitors.

“We urge people to download this app, because widespread use of this technology by residents and visitors alike would make it most effective in our fight against this disease,” Mayor Victorino said. “AlohaSafe Alert is a powerful example of our community coming together so that Maui County and our state can move toward a healthier future.”

There are 17 States and the District of Columbia that are participating in the Google Apple Exposure Notification (“GAEN”) system. California, Oregon and Washington recently launched their official exposure notification apps. The AlohaSafe Alert app is able to communicate with any app on the GAEN system, which is vitally important in highly traveled areas, such as Maui County.

After the app is downloaded, the smartphone uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously communicate with other phones that also have a GAEN application. Devices will automatically “ping” each other, measuring the strength of the Bluetooth signal and the duration of a contact.

If a person becomes infected with COVID-19, the Department of Health sends a code for inputting in the app that will automatically send anonymous notifications to others who may have been exposed.

Location and identifiable information is not used or collected for privacy reasons.

To trigger a notification alert, devices must have been within 6 feet of each other for at least 15 minutes in the past 14 days.

The app is compatible with Android and iPhones. Android phones should be Version 6 or above. iPhones should have iOS 13.7 or greater.

For more information, visit www.alohasafealert.org or contact the State Department of Health at doh.alohasafe@doh.hawaii.gov.

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