A new app could warn you of a possible COVID-19 exposure

A new app could warn you of a possible COVID-19 exposure

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Health has launched an app that aims to alert residents of possible exposure to COVID-19.

The AlohaSafe Alert, which is now available in Maui, Honolulu, Hawaii and Kauai counties, anonymously tracks signals in relation to other devices with the application.

The app uses Google Apple Exposure Notification technology, which is embedded in many smartphones through recent updates.

According to the DOH, the information gathered on the app is completely anonymous.

If someone downloads the app, the phone can remember other devices it meets. According to the application and DOH, any personally identifiable information never leaves the phone.

The technology is able to gauge signals of those around the device. It is able to measure close devices was, how much time was spent together, if a room may have been separating them, and so on.

If a user discovers they are positive with COVID-19, they can upload that information to the app anonymously, which will then notify other users who may have interacted with that person.

“(The app) is so privacy-preserving, that we can’t identify the individuals who have been notified,” said Josh Quint, an epidemiologist with the Department of Health.

“And that’s very intentional on the part of how the technology was designed. People aren’t going to feel comfortable using it if they don’t trust that their privacy is protected.”

About 20 other states are currently using the app.

The state is encouraging users to download the app since it is currently only effective when other users have the app activated as well.

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