Zippy’s is encouraging customers to download the AlohaSafe Alert app — the state’s official COVID-19 exposure notification app — to help curb the spread of coronavirus by offering a discount on breakfast.
The goal at the launch last Tuesday was to move the meter from about 400,000 downloads to 450,000 by this Friday, and the finish line is in sight. If Hawaii reaches 450,000 downloads by Friday, Zippy’s has pledged to offer 25% off any breakfast bento from March 29 through April 2 as part of its “All in for AlohaSafe” campaign.
As of late this afternoon, the Zippy’s online meter recorded 440,600 downloads, up from 400,000 last week.
“We’re getting closer to the goal,” said Lynelle Marble of Hawaii Executive Collaborative, one of the partners involved in creating the app. “We hope to get to 450,000 by this Friday. All it will do is increase the effectiveness of the app.”
Research has shown that for every 1% increase in users of the exposure notification apps, the number of COVID-19 cases drops by 1% to 2%, she said. An Oxford University study also found that 284,000 to 594,000 infections in the United Kingdom have been averted with the technology.
The app, which is downloadable for free from Apple or Google Play, is designed to alert users if they have been exposed to the coronavirus using Bluetooth technology.
It was first piloted on Lanai and in Hana, Maui, in mid-November, then went live in Maui County shortly after, and became available statewide in January.
Marble said she was in discussion with a few other companies on partnerships to encourage downloads, whether it be special discounts on food, goods and services or other incentives.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Marble, who initial goal at the launch was to get 15% of Hawaii’s smartphone users, or 150,000, to download the app. “If we can get to 500,000 or 550,000 [downloads] or more, what it will do is really help to decrease the infections or the possibility of infections.”
This is particularly timely now, she said, with restrictions easing on Oahu, the return of sports, and a growing number of visitors to Hawaii. At the same time, not everyone has been vaccinated for COVID-19 yet.
“As we start to interact more with others, this app could really be a useful tool,” she said.
After the app — developed through a public-private partnership with the state Health Department, aio Digital and Hawaii Executive Collaborative — is downloaded, the smartphone anonymously communicates with other phones that have a Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) application.
Devices with the app will automatically “ping” each other to measure the strength of a Bluetooth signal and the duration of interaction. Once the Health Department confirms a person has become infected with COVID-19, the person with the app will be sent a verification code to anonymously notify others of possible exposure within 48 hours.
“It uses Bluetooth technology,” said Marble. “It does not capture any kind of personal data.”
The app is intended to supplement, not replace, contact tracing efforts. Those who get an alert will not know who exposed them or where the exposure occurred — only that phones were in proximity to one another.
The app, which was previously compatible only with iPhones with iOS 13.7 or greater or Androids Version 6 or above, is now available to those with older iPhones or software. It is also now available in Tagalog, Ilocano, Samoan, Marshallese, Chuukese, and Korean.
Zippy’s is one of the first businesses to step up and partner with AlohaSafe Alert with a discount.
“Encouraging more people to download AlohaSafe Alert is an important way to help our community fight COVID-19,” said Paul Yokota, president of FCH Enterprises, the parent company of Zippy’s, in a statement. “The more people who download the app, the more we keep our community safe, especially as we begin to loosen restrictions.”
Although hundreds of people in Hawaii have been notified by AlohaSafe Alert, developers of the app say specific statistics are unavailable at this time due to privacy protections.
Businesses interested in working with AlohaSafe Alert should contact Marble at Hawaii Executive Collaborative at 295-6162. For more information, visit alohasafealert.org.