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AlohaSafe COVID notification app hits milestone

AlohaSafe Alert, the State of Hawaii’s official COVID-19 exposure notification app, has reached one million activations.

The free app launched statewide in January as a way to bolster the state’s contact tracing program using digital tools. It is designed to provide anonymous notifications to people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

AlohaSafe Alert uses Bluetooth technology to estimate the distance between smartphones. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a secure code from the Hawaii Department of Health. When the user uploads that code, the system will send an anonymous message to any close contacts – individuals within six feet for at least 15 minutes over the last 14 days – of the individual who tested positive for the virus.

Over 600 people have uploaded their code to anonymously report their COVID-19 infection and inform others in the community of their risk. This rate of code redemption is consistent with other states that have successfully implemented the technology.

While the privacy-preserving design of the app limits the amount of data that can be collected from users, preliminary analysis indicates that the technology is effective in notifying people who may have otherwise never been alerted about their exposure, thus preventing infections and saving lives.

Officials attribute Hawaii’s high adoption rate of one million activations in part to strong uptake among residents and visitors. However, due to privacy protections, the ratio of permanent residents to temporary visitors cannot be determined.

“Getting vaccinated is more important than ever, but to slow the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we should use all the tools at our disposal,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health. “Wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and utilizing AlohaSafe Alert exposure notification will help protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19.”

Besides getting vaccinated and wearing masks, Chris Pan, executive director of the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu, has encouraged everyone in his congregation to enable exposure notifications on their phone as an extra layer of protection against the virus.

“Being able to gather in-person means the world to us and AlohaSafe Alert give us the peace of mind knowing that if someone tests positive, we will be immediately notified through our phones,” he said.

Besides Hawaii, 22 states and the District of Columbia have also deployed the exposure notification technology. Hawaii was among the first to adopt EN Express, which allowed iPhone users to opt-in to the service without downloading an app. The app continues to be enhanced over time and has been made available in Tagalog, Ilocano, Samoan, Marshallese, Chuukese, and Korean as well as compatibility with older phones to promote greater access across the community.

AlohaSafe Alert was developed through a public-private partnership with DOH, aio Digital, and the Hawaii Executive Collaborative. It is funded by DOH and donations from the private sector.

For more information visit alohasafealert.org.

Cybersecurity training provided to Native Hawaiian students

Windward Community College and Hawaiian Telcom joined forces to support the growing demand for local cybersecurity professionals with a unique internship program for Native Hawaiian students.

Cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas in the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Information Security Analyst’s Outlook predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31 percent through 2029, more than seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4 percent.

To help meet this growing demand in Hawaii, the ‘Ao Kahi Internship Program was established at Windward Community College, a Native Hawaiian Career and Technical Education project sponsored by ALU LIKE, Inc. and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Through a six-week paid internship, eight students of Native Hawaiian ancestry experienced hands-on learning of “red team” (offensive) and “blue team” (defensive) information security tactics and explored aspects of network engineering, information security engineering, systems engineering and data center management, project management and human management.

The students were mentored by Hawaiian Telcom’s Managed Services team.

The internship’s primary goal was to broaden students’ understanding of information security and outline how expansive the work opportunities are, especially for entry-level positions.

“It was important to us that our students come away with well-rounded insights about different aspects of cybersecurity and pathways to success as they think about potential careers,” said Jodie Yim, coordinator for the ‘Ao Kahi program. “Working with Hawaiian Telcom was invaluable for our students because they engaged regularly with local cybersecurity professionals who are committed to passing on their career and industry knowledge.”

“Connecting with students through ‘Ao Kahi gave us the opportunity to be more than a service provider,” said Jordan Silva, senior manager of service delivery for Hawaiian Telcom. “It gave us the chance to leverage our expertise and passion for our careers in service to our local community.

“A career in cybersecurity can be highly satisfying as it’s fast-paced and constantly evolving, and there are many routes you can take,” Silva added. “As an employer, we see the growing need for qualified professionals and have a vested interest in helping to develop them right here in Hawaii.”

“The internship with Hawaiian Telcom was an amazing opportunity,” said Kainoa Jimenez, who completed his internship in June. “I’m in the process of earning my global Security+ certification and the internship showed me exactly what to pay attention to when I’m ready to pursue a cybersecurity position.”

In addition to the ‘Ao Kahi internship program, Hawaiian Telcom’s Managed Services team supports local cybersecurity education by volunteering to work with students through CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cyber Education Program offered by the Hawaii chapter of the Air Force Association, and hosting free, educational Hawaiian Telcom University events with topics ranging from technology trends to solutions for complex business issues.

The next ‘Ao Kahi Internship cybersecurity cohort starts in January for spring 2022. Applications will be available in November. For questions about the ‘Ao Kahi Internship Program, contact Jodie Yim at wccCyber@hawaii.edu.

About Windward Community College

Windward Community College offers innovative programs in the arts and sciences and opportunities to gain knowledge and understanding of Hawai‘i and its unique heritage. With a special commitment to support the access and educational needs of Native Hawaiians, we provide the Ko‘olau region of O‘ahu and beyond with liberal arts, career and lifelong learning in a supportive and challenging environment — inspiring students to excellence.

About Hawaiian Telcom

Hawaiian Telcom, established and headquartered in Honolulu since 1883, offers a full range of services to business and residential customers including Internet, video, voice, wireless, data network solutions and security, colocation, and managed and cloud services – all supported by the reach and reliability of its next generation fiber network and 24/7 state-of-the-art network operations center. For more information, visit hawaiiantel.com.

UH researchers forecast ‘worst case’ COVID Delta variant spread

There is still potential for COVID-19 case growth in Hawaii, and unvaccinated residents will be the primary driver of its spread and resulting hospitalizations.

Those are the key takeaways identified by a University of Hawaii research team, funded by the National Science Foundation, as it revisits COVID-19 case numbers in Hawaii, taking into account the more contagious Delta variant and the return of pre-pandemic visitor numbers.

The team is lead by UH mathematics professor Monique Chyba, working in partnership with the Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group (HiPAM).

Among their observations:

  • Mutations are a cause for concern, especially the Delta variant, currently dominating in the U.S. Daily cases have been increasing in Hawaii, and doubling in the U.S. as of July 13, 2021 compared to June 23, 2021.
  • Cases had been trending downwards since late May, despite a lower vaccination rate, the end of the mask mandate for outdoors, and an influx of tourists. The numbers started to climb back up around July 7.
  • Cases have gone up despite a decrease in testing in July, which is cause for concern.
  • Among the four main identified variants of COVID-19, the Alpha variant was dominant in May but prevalence has fallen consistently since. The Delta variant is the only variant with increasing numbers today.

“Reopening and lifting mitigations measures such as mask mandate must be done cautiously,” the group reported. “While daily cases and hospitalizations are under control currently, a surge cannot be excluded, especially if restrictions are lifted too early.”

Just today, Los Angeles County announced that it would again require masks to be worn when indoors due to a surge in COVID cases there. This a month after a long-awaited and celebrated reopening.

“It can be clearly observed that the majority of hospitalizations are due to unvaccinated individuals,” they added. “Vaccination is key to controlling the spread of the virus!”

Chyba and her team also prepared a worst case scenario for Honolulu County, assuming vaccination rates stop at 65 percent of the population, and assuming that all new cases are the more contagious Delta variant.

The forecast shows daily new cases exceeding 150 and daily hospitalizations nearing 90 by November 2021.

State connects with outdoor recreation app

A free application that provides official information on Hawaii hiking trails and hunting areas statewide debuted today.

The state of Hawaii is adopting the OuterSpatial platform to provide current and official information about trails and other outdoor recreation spots and hunting seasons, rules, and areas.

The app is available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. More information can be found on the state Department of Land and Natural Resources website here, or on OuterSpatial’s website here.

Department of Fish and Wildlife (DOFAW) biologist Jason Omick said the genesis of the app was to have a more proficient way to collect hunter harvest data.

“We found a lot of people wanted to be able to check-in electronically,” he said. “With this mobile app they can do that and more.”

Users can download their trail or route prior to taking off and even if your phone drops cell service, the app will continue to provide your location via the phone’s GPS. This will give people a sense of security when they’re in the field.

“Even when you are off-line, you will be able to navigate State Forest Reserves and trails in the Na Ala Hele Trails and Access system with confidence,” Omick added.

Earlier this week, on east Oahu’s Kuliʻouʻou Trail, a team from DOFAW demonstrated the OuterSpatial app and some of its functions. Omick stops along the trail and showed some of the features.

“Our Hawai‘i home screen has weather advisories, COVID updates, special trails, masterpiece trails, and places to go for epic views,” he explained. “You can just touch on any area, read about it, and find different hunting areas and checkstations, natural area reserves, and even state parks.”

The application is ever expandable and Omick expects to provide additional information and updates based on user needs. One potential tool is that hikers can “check in” to a trail when hiking, which could be used to provide information in the event that a hiker goes missing.

The app has social media integration and users can take and share photos and report trail hazards and problems to DOFAW or other state agencies.

Nicholas Vargas, a DOFAW wildlife biologist, is a hunter. He is excited about the utility of the OuterSpatial App. “Being able to actually monitor how far you go on a trail and the amount of game you take is a cool thing. You can look back and see how you progress through your hunting career.”

For land and resource managers the application is expected to provide metrics which will better inform management decisions, such as when to open and close trails.

Omick added: “We’ll be monitoring each trail and area, making sure they’re open when they’re supposed to be and closed when they’re supposed to be. So rather than going to unofficial websites that may not have current and up-to-date information, OuterSpatial will have information on all our assets that are open to the public. It is the official DLNR outdoor recreation app, and we encourage everyone who enjoys being out on the trails, in the forest, or in the parks to download it for free.”

DOFAW managers say the app’s applications are limitless and they plan to make it more robust over time.

“The sky is the limit,” Omick concluded.

App development cost an estimated $140,000 and there is a $10,000 annual charge from OuterSpatial.

Hawaii travel tech companies ride resurgence of tourism

The global tourism economy and any businesses associated with it took a huge hit in 2020. In Hawaii, hundreds of them shut down, and those that survived did so at great cost and sacrifice.

Now, with vaccination rates rising, the Hawaii tourist economy has roared back to life, nearing the record numbers seen two years ago. The crush of visitors has many questioning the sustainability of the current system, but it also brings some good news: local tourism-centric businesses like Shaka Guide, Activiter, and TurnoverBnB — all alumni of the Hawaii-based technology accelerator Blue Startups — have seen extreme growth since the start of the year.

Shaka Guide

After a dismal 2020 and having to furlough most of its team, Shaka Guide went from 0-100mph starting in April. Offering over 20 audio tours encompassing our culture’s art of storytelling, Shaka Guide covers Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island. Since it functions as a self-guided tour, this service is primed for a post-covid world in which people are still very hesitant to participate in group activities.

According to Co-Founder Andrew Fowers, Shaka Guide has been able to double its pre-covid revenue as well as its internal staff and beat its recovery forecasting by 6 months. For more information on their open positions, please check out their indeed page.

Activiter

Activiter, a real-time digital inventory marketplace for tours and activities here in Hawai’i, found itself at zero customers all 2020. As March of 2021 rolled around, forecasts for tourism looked promising and Expedia pulled its activity desks from Hawaii hotels. Filling the gap left by Expedia, Activiter signed a pivotal deal allowing them to 10x their distribution.

Originating as a golf-specific platform, Activiter expanded to a wide range of vacation activities. Their turnkey technology platform enables companies to sell tours and activities to their existing customer base under their own brand.

TurnoverBnB

As a tech platform that streamlines the scheduling, paying, and finding vacation rental cleaners and cleaning services for Airbnbs across the globe, business started picking up for TurnoverBnB in February. While Europe is proving to have a slower rebound, the reopening of the United States and other English speaking countries has caused business to grow exponentially. As we exit the pandemic, TurnoverBnB has made sure to provide extensive resources and heightened protocols to their cleaning vendors.

Marketing Director, Nicolette Masiya, says they are expanding internally as they look to fill multiple roles in their marketing department. They are specifically looking for an in-house content marketer to work out of their Honolulu office. If you are qualified and interested in this position, please email Nicolette at nicolette@turnoverbnb.com.

Chenoa Farnsworth is the managing director of Blue Startups, Hawaii’s only venture accelerator. She has been helping startup entrepreneurs to grow their companies for the past 15 years.

Applications open for second Hawaii remote work program

Applications opened today for the second cohort of “Movers and Shakas,” an initiative by local business leaders to foster remote work and community contributions in Hawaii.

The competitive program, which garnered nearly 90,000 applications for the first cohort’s 50 spots, provides selected participants with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Hawaii, build strong personal relationships and actively contribute to the community while continuing their full-time remote job.

The online application will remain open until July 12, 2021.

Those selected for the fall cohort will be welcomed with a free roundtrip ticket to and from Honolulu and are required to remain in Hawaii for the month of October. Cohort members will also be assigned a volunteer project with a local nonprofit or startup based on their skills and experience and will be provided with cultural orientation and group community-building activities.

Participants in the first cohort volunteered with partner organizations including the PAʻI Foundation, Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Native Hawaiian Chambers of Commerce, and Girl Scouts of Hawaii, among others.

“Our pilot program and inaugural cohort fellows exceeded our expectations,” said Nicole Lim, director of Movers and Shakas. “What started as a passionate initiative by Hawaii business leaders has transformed into a multidimensional program centered on building strong relationships and creating a more sustainable and resilient Hawaii.

“We are excited to take our learnings from our first cohort and build on those successes to create more meaningful experiences and greater community impact for our second cohort,” she added.

“Movers and Shakas was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to contribute my professional skills and learn about Hawaii’s unique culture, history and community,” said Nicole Chiu-Wang, a member of the first who works at Google in the Bay Area. “The program was so much more than I could have hoped for, and I left Hawaii more educated, inspired, and deeply connected to the land and people.”

Funding for Movers and Shakas was provided through donations from founding organizations including CPB Foundation, FCH Enterprises (parent company of Zippy’s), Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Hawaii Executive Collaborative, Inkinen Executive Search, iQ 360, Island Holdings, and kWh Analytics, with support from United Airlines and the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). This program is not funded by the CARES Act or any government funding dedicated to COVID-19 recovery.

Participants must have current legal authorization to work in the United States, a full-time job that is 100 percent remote (unless an Oahu resident) and are committed to the program requirements. Hawaii residents are also encouraged to apply. Interested applicants are encouraged to watch the online information session to hear experiences from past participants.

Program Commitment

This immersive program requires selected participants to commit 8-10 hours/week of volunteering, cultural orientation, and group activities in addition to existing personal and professional commitments. Requirements include:

  • Stay the entire 30 days (minimum) on Oahu from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31
  • Attend required events during the month of October
  • Actively participate in skill-based team volunteer projects with local organizations for 15 hours a month for two months (the second month can be remote).

About Movers and Shakas

Movers and Shakas aims to bring together purpose-driven remote workers, especially returning kamaʻāina, to come to Hawaii and actively contribute to the community. The program is rooted in three pillars: people, economy and caring for Hawaii. Its mission is to create a more innovative, resilient, and sustainable Hawaii by enabling personal relationships, professional collaborations, and contributions to the community. For more information visit www.moversandshakas.org.

Hawaii-based rideshare service Holoholo launches

The new Hawaii-based, locally owned rideshare company holoholo, founded by longtime SpeediShuttle CEO Cecil Morton, is launching today to riders on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Kauai and Lanai.

The company started recruiting drivers in April.

The holoholo platform offers a marketplace of community drivers where riders can request a vehicle in minutes from their smartphone, see the cost, and have it charged to their credit card, providing riders access to reliable and safe transportation.

“I am excited to finally bring a locally owned and operated ridesharing service to the people of Hawaii and connect businesses and communities at the push of a button,” said Morton.

Morton says holoholo’s mission is to simplify the ridesharing experience and connect our communities to local businesses in Hawaii.

Starting today, holoholo riders can download the holoholo Mobility App, or book a ride online.

“With holoholo you’re getting a local company with a platform built on the values of community, sustainability and safety,” Rob Mora, a holoholo spokesperson, said. “Ridesharing is an important part of the transportation eco-system in Hawaii and it’s exciting to see a homegrown brand come to life and do their part to bring earning opportunity and accessible fair pricing to locals and visitors.”

The holoholo Difference:

  • Transparency for rider and driver pricing (no surge pricing and no surprises)
  • Sustainable product offering (green vehicle option)
  • Locally owned and operated (connect face-to-face with local employees and offices)
  • A focus on safety for rider and drivers (ongoing background/wellness checks and COVID practices) 

How to Book a Ride

  • Holoholo Mobility App: Download the App from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store from any smartphone and sign up with a valid credit card. 
  • Holoholo Website: Go to rideholoholo.com/book-online and enter a mobile phone number, email and valid credit card. No signup is needed. Note that App features like driver tracking are unavailable if booking online. 

Holoholo Products & Services

Economy

  • Holoholo (1-4 pax): Affordable, everyday rides 
  • Green (1-4 pax): Low-emission rides 

Premium

  • Holoholo XL (1-5 pax): Larger vehicles that can seat up to 5 passengers 
  • Luxury (1-4 pax): Premium rides with highly rated drivers  

More

  • Assist (1-4 pax): Special assistance from certified drivers 
  • Military (1-4 pax): Base access made easy 

Mana Up announces sixth cohort of ‘rising local businesses’

The Mana Up accelerator program for Hawaii-based product companies has announced the members of its sixth cohort, made up of 12 “rising local entrepreneurs.”

It’s the largest Mana Up cohort to date.

Mana Up says it received a record-breaking 130 applications for this latest round, “a testament to our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Hawaii.”

The six-month program will kick off on November 4, 2021 with a “Showcase” event.

The Mana Up Product Accelerator provides workshops, weekly one-on-one check-in meetings, mentor matching with industry experts based on company need and stage, support on branding and narrative, access to discounted services and resources, access to sales channels, access to capital, and an invitation to sell products through the House of Mana Up retail brand, both at a brick-and-mortar store in Royal Hawaiian Center and through an e-commerce store.

The following are the members of Mana Up Cohort 6:

  1. Aloha de Mele is a collection of artwork inspired by Hawaii’s beauty, land, culture, and people. Founded by artist JT Ojerio from Pearl City, Oahu.
  2.  Banán offers one of its number one smoothie bowl toppings, the mac nut honey butter in a jar. Founded by Matt Hong, Zak Barry and Luke Untermann from Honolulu, Oahu.
  3.  HI Spice is a locally sourced hot sauce that is inspired, grown and crafted on Maui. Founded by Justin Orr and Katie Cook from Kula, Maui
  4.  Island Harvest harvests and manufactures sustainably grown organic macadamia products. Owned and operated by Andrew and Nathan T. from Kohala, Hawaii Island.
  5.  Kahuku Farms crafts butters, jams and other products using fresh produce from its farm, which has been family-run for over 100 years. Owned and operated by Kylie Matsuda-Lum and Judah Lum from Kahuku, Oahu.
  6.  Keiki Kaukau is a line of quality children’s products that reflect the unique mixed-plate culture of the islands. Created by Hawai‘i mom and former school teacher April Hail from Honolulu, Oahu.
  7.  Kākou Collective offers stationery products like notebooks, washi tape, and rulers with hand drawn designs inspired by native Hawaiian plants. Founded by Kea Peters from Ewa Beach, Oahu.
  8.  ‘Ohana Nui offers premium all-natural macadamia nut cookies in flavors inspired by and utilizing local ingredients. Founded by Tom Walker from Honolulu, Oahu.
  9.  Pawniolo Pets makes nutritious raw pet food, single ingredient pet treats and preservative free chews from grass-fed animals raised 100% in Hawaii. Founded by Miki and Nick Vericella from Waimea, Hawaii Island. 
  10.  Pono Potions is an all-natural flavored syrup company for coffee and cocktails highlighting the natural ingredients of the Hawaiian Islands. Founded by Peter Hessler from Honolulu, Oahu. 
  11.  Sea Salts of Hawai‘i harvests Hawaiian sea salts and deep ocean minerals from its own Kona salt farm. Founded by Sandra Gibson from Keahole, Hawaii Island.
  12.  Utara Organics is a line of mangosteen-based organic skincare that is free of chemicals and toxins. Founded by Amy Arnett-Smith from Kilauea, Kauai.

Hawaii hosts global gaming tournament

Hawaii is hosting one of the fastest growing leagues in all of international esports. Elite teams from the Overwatch League (OWL) are participating in a series of four tournaments at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa beginning this week, and running through August.

OWL is the world’s first city-based esports league with 20 teams based in North America, Europe and Asia, and features the game Overwatch, a team-based action game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The competition in Hawaii is an effort to bridge the gap to bring safe and online interregional play from its best teams. Last year, due to COVID-19, OWL teams were rarely able to play head-to-head matches between teams in different regions because of the online latency difference.

The upcoming tournaments will each feature two teams from its West region playing from UH Mānoa, while teams from East region in Asia will connect virtually and play head-to-head in real-time. Matches will take place May 6–8, June 10–12, July 15–17 and August 19–21. They can be viewed live and on demand from the Overwatch League YouTube channel. The winning team for each of the four tournaments at UH will take home a $100,000 prize.

“For the university, there’s unprecedented opportunity for students to get as close as they can with a publisher and organizer to see how the tournament runs and how a publisher organizes events because this is basically a new form of worldwide entertainment,” said Nyle Sky Kauweloa, a communication and information sciences PhD student and head of the UH Mānoa Esports Task Force in the College of Social Sciences.

“Working with the University of Hawaii has helped solve one of our biggest challenges as we continue to safely compete in online competition,” said Corey Smith, director of broadcast technology for the Overwatch League. “Playing from Hawaii unlocks online play between our East and West regions, which makes our competition stronger and our matches more exciting for fans globally. We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Hawaii and local students to help make it all happen.”

“I’m most excited about getting to work with professionals in a sense of how to run a large scale tournament where everyone in the world is watching,” said Alexine Niro, a UH Mānoa mechanical engineering senior and Overwatch player on UH Mānoa’s esports team. “My teammates and I get to meet the gaming professionals that you see around the world as well, so it’s a surreal experience for Hawaii to be a part of.”

Overwatch is just one of many games propelling the esports industry. A new global esports and live-streaming market report projects global esports revenue will reach $1.08 billion in 2021, up 14.5% from 2020; and $833.6 million of those revenues will come from media rights and sponsorships. The global live streaming audience will also hit more than 728 million in 2021, growing 10% from 2020.

Esports expanding at UH Mānoa

The UH Mānoa esports program currently fields teams for Overwatch, League of Legends, Rainbow Six, Super Smash Bros. and VALORANT. Many of these teams have garnered national recognition, including a top 25 ranking for the Overwatch team among 271 North American colleges and universities. Kauweloa said one of the main goals of UH Mānoa Esports is to discover ways to connect students with the wider gaming and esports industry. One example is a recent partnership with Cloud9, one of the largest professional esports organizations in North America.

The esports community at UH Mānoa was gaining interest and participation before the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown even more since. That’s because many of the conversations and activities have moved online to UH Mānoa esports’ Discord chat application channel, which has more than 300 members.

“These have become our new arenas because of COVID-19,” Kauweloa said. “This is where we hold events, organize events and talk with students. Since COVID-19 began, we have a whole group of students that haven’t even met each other in person and only met each other through Discord, and only know about UH through the UH esports Discord.”

While becoming a professional esports player is a lofty goal, students involved in the teams gain experience in management, events planning, web development and business management.

“What you would imagine in a traditional setting with sports, you would replicate that with esports,” Kauweloa said. “But I would say there are even more opportunities to get into the esports industry because so much of what is required out of esports is something that requires new media skills, data analytics, media production and web development.”

Interested students are encouraged to follow the team’s TwitterInstagram and Discord pages, or email uh.esports@hawaii.edu.

Esports courses available

UH Mānoa’s School of Communications in the College of Social Sciences is launching a three-course esports series beginning this fall and students from all majors are invited to apply. Twenty selected students will enroll in a fall 2021 course on esports and society; and two spring 2022 courses on streaming and content creation, and marketing. A committee will select the group of 20 students. Interested students need to complete this form by May 14, 2021 at 5 p.m.

This program is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

Big Island bus, bikeshare app launched

Hawaii Bus Plus, a subscription-based app for the Big Island Hele-On Bus and HIBIKE Bikeshare systems, has been built and launched by a developed by a Waimea student.

The app, which features interactive maps and directions, was built by Big Island native Tiger Oakes, now attending college in Vancouver.

Hawaii Bus Plus makes riding Hele-On Bus a more positive experience for iPhone, Android, and desktop users, allowing locals and tourists to ride the bus without hassle by providing all of Hawaii’s transit data at the touch of a finger.

“The Big Island finally has a fast and easy bus app, built on an award-winning foundation,” Oakes said.

Similar to like public transit apps from around the world, Hawaii Bus Plus users can find the bus routes nearest to their location and see when the bus will arrive. The app shows a live interactive map of Hawaii and Street View previews of every bus stop, and includes built-in directions to help users navigate from point A to B, even across multiple bus routes or to HIBIKE Bikeshare locations.

The app is a Progressive Web App (PWA), enabling users to take advantage of the smooth and seamless experience of a native app while allowing the benefit of not taking up any space on the device.

New features are constantly being added, and Oakes hopes to add real-time tracking in the future.

Oakes first tackled public transit apps with his high school project “Big Island Buses,” winner of a Congressional App Challenge.

“I never stopped thinking about my roots on the island, and I’m happy that I’ve created a new solution for the bus system with years of experience from college.” said Oakes.

Hawaii Bus Plus is available for $1.99 per month at hawaiibusplus.com.

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