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    UH receives $50 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg, Dr. Priscilla Chan

    Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have committed $50 million over seven years to support the University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), representing the largest cash gift in UH history.

    UH says the gift will support various research groups within the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), allowing it to make meaningful progress in restoring Hawaii’s ocean health.

    For example, the funding will go toward research and programs that document changing ocean conditions, explore solutions to support healthier ocean ecosystems, enhance coastal resilience from storms and sea-level rise, and tackle challenges to marine organisms ranging from the tiniest corals to the largest predators.

    “This transformative gift will enable our world-class experts to accelerate conservation research for the benefit of Hawaii and the world,” UH President David Lassner said.

    “The ocean ecosystems that evolved over eons now face unprecedented threats from our growing human population and our behaviors. It is critical that we learn from previous generations who carefully balanced resource use and conservation,” he said. “The clock is ticking, and we must fast-track not only our understanding of marine ecosystems and the impacts of climate change, but the actions we must take to reverse the devastation underway.

    “There is no place on Earth better than Hawaii to do this work, and no institution better able than UH,” Lassner added. “We could not be more grateful for the investment of Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in a better future for all of us and our planet.”

    Aerial view of Coconut Island — Moku o Loʻe. (Photo credit: Doug Peebles)

    Hawaii is home to a rich diversity of marine life, including many threatened and endangered species. The accelerated pace of climate change and ocean acidification has altered environmental conditions faster than expected. Many species have difficulty adapting to the rapid changes taking place in the oceans and scientists see growing impacts to marine ecosystems.

    The gift funds research on the impact of climate change on Hawaiian coastal waters, including areas of particular concern or natural refuges from ocean acidification effects. It will also support research on methods for more accurate forecasting of future ocean conditions, as well as efforts to study marine organisms like coral reefs, sharks, and other species.

    “Hawaii has one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world—and having a deeper understanding of this ecosystem is the key to preserving and protecting it,” said Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan. “We’re honored to support the University of Hawaii’s conservation efforts, including their trailblazing research on coral reef restoration, the impact of climate change on coastal waters, and other areas related to the health of our oceans.”

    The seven-year commitment funds research that supports healthier, more climate change-resilient coral reef ecosystems. For example, scaling up strategies for coral reef restoration. It also leverages efforts to grow community partnerships and support Indigenous resource management practices. Further, it supports training for the next generation of coral scientists and ocean conservationists.

    “In addition to the research funded through this gift, we will improve support for local students in overcoming obstacles to higher education,” adds Interim SOEST Dean Chip Fletcher. “Through internships, mentoring, community engagement efforts and graduate research fellowships we will grow our pool of scholars, policymakers, and conservationists from underrepresented communities around our state.”

    The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa is a world-class research and academic institution focused on informing solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. Through an integrated, comprehensive, and sustained system of Earth and planetary observations, research, and education, SOEST staff work to transform the way people live on Earth by enabling a healthy public, economy, and planet. This gift also funds critical efforts to inform the public, policy makers and resource managers of ocean acidification and warming vulnerabilities.

    “This generous gift is a wonderful opportunity to support the much-needed interdisciplinary work that will help us to better understand ocean systems and Indigenous management strategies and to develop effective approaches for ocean conservation,” added Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Director Eleanor Sterling. “We aim to make significant strides toward ensuring healthy, diverse oceans as well as meeting the needs of local communities.”

    University of Hawaii Foundation CEO Tim Dolan concluded: “We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg for their generous gift and commitment to restoring our oceans. Through their visionary generosity, our UH researchers and partners will have the essential funding needed to gain new knowledge and ultimately help our world’s oceans. The timing of this incredible investment will generate enormous momentum for UH’s ambitious capital campaign.”

    Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash.

    UH launches new startup incubator

    A new initiative to boost innovation and entrepreneurship across the 10-campus University of Hawaii system is now accepting applications.

    Called Ideation Studio@UH, the new incubator program from the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC) provides concierge services, resources and seed funding to advance UH-affiliated innovations from ideas to market.

    Vincent Kimura

    “This program is developed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs,” said Vincent Kimura, Director of Programs and Partnerships. “Many faculty don’t realize that running a lab—securing funding, managing staff, developing and testing inventions and products—is a lot like running a business. We’re here to help them take their ideas and inventions from the lab to the market to impact the greater community.”

    Unlike other accelerator and incubator programs, Ideation Studio@UH provides a 12–24 month curated experience that drives innovation and the long-term success of UH tech startups. The inaugural spring 2022 cohort will be limited to 4–5 participants, who will be accepted on a rolling basis.

    Applications may be submitted from January 19–February 1, 2022 on the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization website.

    The program’s wrap-around services and benefits for each selected cohort participant include:

    • Guidance: Personalized education and coaching through mentors, advisors, webinars, classes and/or aligned programs.
    • Resources: $50,000 in-kind operational support for legal and financial options and guidance on grant opportunities, business operations and strategic planning.
    • Funding: Up to $25,000 in milestone-based seed funding, and support in securing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and/or other potential grant and investment opportunities.
    • Perks: Exclusive networking, partnerships, community building, publicity and award opportunities.

    Ideation Studio@UH will be a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship at UH,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “It is tailored to meet the needs of our faculty and staff to support them in starting companies, creating jobs and diversifying and growing our economy and Hawaiʻi’s innovation ecosystem.”

    The program is made possible by the support of a $2.7 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Seed funding will be provided through OIC’s UH Ventures, LLC.

    Informational webinars will be held on Wednesday, January 12 at 1:30 p.m. and January 19 at 9 a.m.

    For more information, visit the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization website or contact Lea Okudara at lokudara@hawaii.edu.

    Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash.

    Three Hawaii schools advance in national STEM challenge

    Three schools in Hawaii are being recognized nationally for their ideas to impact change in their local communities through STEM education, including Waipahu Intermediate School in Waipahu and Leilehua High School and Kalani High School in Honolulu.

    The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

    Selected from a pool of over 1,000 applicants, these three schools have just been named Hawaii state winners in a nationwide competition that challenges students in grades 6th-12th to creatively use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address real-world issues in their communities.

    Prizes in the 12th annual “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest” have an approximate retail value of $2 million.

    As state winners, each school will receive $6,500 to be redeemed on Donorschoose.org, a nonprofit organization that facilitates direct donations to public school classroom projects, as well as a video kit to help them with the next phase of the contest.

    The state winner classrooms were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues by using STEM learning and supporting sustainability. In addition to the $6,500, they received a video kit to help them with the next phase of the contest.

    Teachers and their students from the 100 state winner schools will now record a video to showcase their project in hopes of advancing through future phases of the contest to win additional prizes and educational opportunities.

    :Empowered and inspired to elicit change, Gen Z students are catalysts for making the world a better place,” said Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “As change agents for the future, this year’s State Winners are taking action to create tangible solutions that address a wide-range of important issues impacting their generation.”

    Hawaii State Winner Profiles:

    Teacher Bryan Silver and his high school students at Kalani High School

    Local Issue: The Global Gig Economy is expected to grow 17.4% annually and is expected to double from 2018 to 2023. As the opportunity for freelance jobs increases, it can prove to be beneficial for teens looking for experience with more flexibility.

    Proposed Project: Design a mobile app that connects teens with local neighborhood jobs to build self-esteem, financial awareness, and community connectedness.

    Teacher Ken Kozuma and his middle school students at Waipahu Intermediate School

    Local Issue: On the island of Oahu, residents generate more than 2.2 million tons of waste annually. However, there is currently only one landfill which is set to close in 2028; another is set to open and will take away prime agriculture land.

    Proposed Project: Create an effective composting system and set up waste reduction protocols on school grounds.

    Teacher Patrick Yim and his high school students at Leilehua High School

    Local Issue: With the depletion of wild fish stock around the globe, the world has turned towards aquaculture as a method of food production. In Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the value of farm-raised marine animals was $78.5 million in 2019.

    Proposed Project: Develop a low-cost, solar-powered system for individuals or community groups to be able to participate and profit from aquaculture.

    Future Competition Phases:

    Ten National Finalist schools will be selected to participate in the pitch event where they will present their project to a panel of judges. For achieving National Finalist status, seven of these schools will be awarded $50,000 in technology and supplies while the remaining three will be named National Winners.

    The National Winner schools will receive $100,000 in classroom technology and supplies.

    Of the top ten schools, one Community Choice Winner will also be determined through online public voting and will be eligible to win an additional $10,000 in Samsung technology, as well as one Employee Choice Winner determined by Samsung employee votes to win an additional $10,000.

    Hawaii entrepreneur launches digital gift wrapping service

    Honolulu-based Swipewrap has created an innovative solution to gift-giving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The interactive, web-based software lets users wrap a 3D box online, then send it electronically to any phone, tablet or laptop.

    “I wanted to digitally encapsulate the joy and thoughtfulness of gift-giving,” says founder Tom Knapp-Ramos. “Users can make a highly-custom, virtual wrapping paper at the push of a button without losing the sentiment that comes with in-person gifts.”

    Users can even send a digital picture of a physical gift and enclose it in the Swipewrap, combatting the frustration of shipping delays and snail mail.

    To enhance the convenience, Swipewrap is partnering with Tango Card® so that users can send a gift card and let their loved one decide which major retailer to spend it on.

    In addition to the free, pre-set features, users can upgrade their experience for only 99 cents to mimic the excitement of custom holiday wrapping. They can personalize their digital paper to feature any color or festive design, including images of their faces or pets.

    Users can also send the Swipewrap instantly or schedule an e-delivery for it to arrive promptly on Christmas morning.

    Swipewrap has boxed nearly 10,000 gifts worldwide during its beta, and its timely launch will likely garner more users.

    “The pandemic cancelled many families’ plans to gather during the holidays, so I’m happy that Swipewrap offers a way for everyone to participate in the festivities while staying safe,” says Swipewrap user Taryn Pascua. “This new era of gift-giving will transform the experience in a way that’s fun, personal, and convenient.”

    Swipewrap creator, Tom Knapp-Ramos, was named the Hawaii Student Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA) in 2018. The HVCA “strives to serve as a catalyst and beacon in the heart of the Pacific for entrepreneurship, venture capital activity, and growth.”

    Visit swipewrap.com to swipewrap a gift today.

    Hawaiian Telcom hosts cybersecurity event

    October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Hawaiian Telcom is presenting a free educational event for local businesses titled “Cybersecurity Trends You Need to Know.”

    The world of cybersecurity can change in a nanosecond. The October 7 event will review what local experts are seeing and what businesses need to know to protect themselves.

    “Our team is passionate about bringing people together and offering training and education to help them understand how to leverage technology to their best advantage,” said Marcus Yano, who will be kicking off the event. “Keeping up to date with what’s happening and with the available technology is a critical first step, especially in cybersecurity.”

    Yano is Executive Director of Architecture and Cloud Services of CBTS, the consulting arm of Hawaiian Telcom’s parent company.

    The virtual event will feature a general session led by Evan Horton, Senior Manager for Network Security Operations at Hawaiian Telcom. The general session will be followed by a choice of two workshops:

    • What is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and How to Prepare for it led by Jordan Silva, Senior Manager – Service Delivery
    • Protecting Your Business Against Cyber Attacks led by Marc Masuno, Director – Professional Services and Cloud Architecture, and Michael Taratko, Principal Architect – Security

    The event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, October 7, 2021.

    Click here to register.

    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, 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.

    Hawaii tech fund Earthshot Ventures launched

    The first climate technology fund raised from Hawaii launched today with its first $60 million close.

    Earthshot Ventures from the Elemental Excelerator aims to scale global, equitable climate solutions by bringing together new and existing networks in the climate tech space.

    The spin-out is backed by Emerson Collective, the Employees’ Retirement System of Hawaii, Microsoft, Stafford Capital Partners, Impact Engine, McKinley Alaska, Kleiner Perkins chairman John Doerr, NextGen America founder Tom Steyer, and Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox.

    Elemental Excelerator is a global climate tech organization that pioneered the use of the accelerator model for climate technologies. Since 2012, Elemental has evaluated over 5,000 companies, invested alongside 2,000 co-investors, and built an inclusive community to advance climate investing.

    “Earthshot raises the bar for equitable climate tech investment,” said Laurene Powell Jobs, Elemental Excelerator board chair and president of the Emerson Collective. “Our deeply aligned group of investors is seeking the most audacious entrepreneurs to rapidly address the climate crisis.”

    Three of Elemental’s team members will lead the fund: Dawn Lippert, Elemental founder and CEO, Mike Jackson, who has served as Elemental’s investor-in-residence since 2017, and Ramsay Siegal, former head of Elemental’s portfolio.

    Elemental Excelerator’s Interactive annual investor event was held May 15, 2019 at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA. Photo: Kevin de Leon

    “We built Earthshot Ventures to increase catalytic funding for bold and diverse founders who are transforming markets,” said Lippert. “Earthshot gives us a new tool to help founders tackle enormous challenges, while providing investors access to the world’s biggest growth opportunity: combating climate change.”

    “Microsoft is investing in Earthshot because of their ability to deliver impactful and equitable climate solutions, two top priorities for our Climate Innovation Fund,” said Brandon Middaugh, director of the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. “We look forward to supporting the new technologies made possible by this investment, which are key to a net zero carbon future.”

    About Earthshot Ventures

    Earthshot Ventures is a $60 million early-stage venture fund investing in entrepreneurs solving the toughest climate challenges. The fund invests in both hardware and software companies from Seed through Series B, and helps companies scale by plugging them into our global network of customers, investors, and policymakers. In 2021, Earthshot was spun out of Elemental Excelerator, a global climate tech organization that pioneered the use of the accelerator model for climate technologies. The fund is led by Dawn Lippert, Elemental founder and CEO; Mike Jackson, who served as Elemental’s investor-in-residence since 2017; and Matt Logan, who previously evaluated startups and led corporate partnerships for Elemental. For more information, please visit earthshot.vc.

    About Elemental Excelerator

    Elemental Excelerator is on a mission to redesign the systems at the root of climate change. In 2009, the non-profit launched a new model for funding climate tech deployment. Breaking down barriers to innovation alongside entrepreneurs provides Elemental unique insight into the policy, market, and technology innovation needed to build systems to uplift people and communities around the world. Elemental has invested in over 115 growth-stage companies and celebrated more than 20 exits, funded more than 70 technology projects, and built a platform for scaling equitable, market-driven solutions to climate change. For more information, please visit elementalexcelerator.com.

    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.

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