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    Hawaii Convention Center adapts to post-pandemic meeting market

    As Honolulu moves into Tier 3 of its reopening strategy, the Hawaii Convention Center is prepared to welcome guests and events back to the state’s largest meeting facility.

    The center is touting industry-leading protocols for meetings and events, including the implementation of health and safety technologies, new food and beverage options, revised layouts for socially distanced gatherings, and extensive staff training.

    The Hawaii Convention Center has also developed new virtual meetings packages to offer guests the convenience of attending meetings remotely. This full array of turnkey video-production services includes professionally coordinated pre-recording management, webinar and live-stream production, and hybrid meeting design and execution across a variety of popular virtual platforms.

    Opened in 1998, Hawaii Convention Center is Hawaii’s largest meetings facility, located eight miles from the Honolulu International Airport, and near 28,000 guest rooms as well as shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The building offers 1.1 million square feet of ballroom and exhibition floor space.

    The City & County of Honolulu eased COVID-19 restrictions for the Island of Oahu on March 11 to allow for select gatherings, meetings and events under “Tier 3” guidelines, which allows venues such as convention centers, third-party conference room providers, and banquet halls to host low-risk structured events.

    The center had recently worked with state agencies to provide space for important services such as unemployment claims processing, COVID-19 contact tracing for the Hawaii Department of Health, and vote counting Office of Elections. And the Hawaii State Judiciary selected the Center for the Hawaii Bar Exam, due to the availability of large spaces that accommodate social-distancing requirements of at least six feet between guests.

    “The Center was exceptionally well prepared to handle our group while adhering to all recommended COVID-19
    protocols,” said Rochelle Kaui of the Office of the Chief Clerk with the Hawaii State Judiciary. “The facility was very
    clean, and we felt safe, comfortable and well cared for throughout the planning process and the event itself.

    “It was such a relief that the HCC had ample space to allow for the social distancing we needed to conduct our business while
    implementing the stringent health and safety requirements for all of us to follow,” Kaui added. “From security to custodial to food
    service, the Center’s staff were so professional and respectful.”

    The Center also conducted key improvements, repairs and upgrades throughout the building, allowing for the expedited completion of maintenance projects and the implementation of new safety protocols. Now, it is opening its doors more widely to accommodate conventions from out of state.

    “The Hawaii Convention Center offers numerous advantages when holding meetings and events, and we are excited to welcome guests back to Hawaii with the legendary Aloha spirit and service that sets us apart as a productive, relaxed and enjoyable place to conduct business,” said Teri Orton, general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center. “As Hawaii opens up meetings and travel options, we are here to provide large gathering spaces and event options in a safe, open-air environment, while closely following the recommendations of public health officials.

    “As always, the health and safety of our guests and employees are the Center’s top priority,” Orton said.

    Travel to Hawaii from other U.S. states is allowed with a confirmed negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure, which offers guests the opportunity to opt out of a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. More information on travel to Hawaii from within the U.S. is available at hawaiicovid19.com/travel. International travel information is available through the CDC.

    The center has developed and implemented health and safety measures including:

    • Enhanced cleaning and sanitation and the use of electrostatic sprayers;
    • The installation of thermal cameras and touchless temperature checks;
    • The use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
    • Modified food and beverage operations, including fresh, individually packaged meals and snacks;
    • Increased availability of hand-sanitizer dispensers;
    • Contactless transactions, special signage and social-distancing guidelines.

    Opened in 1998, Hawaii Convention Center is Hawaii’s largest meetings facility, located eight miles from the Honolulu International Airport, and near 28,000 guest rooms as well as shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The building offers 1.1 million square feet of ballroom and exhibition floor space.

    Cloudwell Health expands WePrescribe telehealth offerings

    Local telehealth service WePrescribe, which launched last year and went on to add coronavirus screening and pediatric services, has rebranded and relaunched as CloudWell Health.

    With the new name, the company is also adding a number of new services: connectivity to employee wellness programs, mental health counseling, and personalized health coaching for chronic disease management such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, smoking cessation, and weight loss.

    Physician founders Dr. Neel Chauhan and Dr. Cedric Strong describe CloudWell Health as “Hawaii’s first integrated telemedicine and wellness platform.”

    “We realize one of the barriers to treatment and wellness for many of our patients is time and access to healthcare providers,” says Chauhan. “As an online healthcare practice, CloudWell Health is able to make it easy for users to utilize its services by scheduling appointments when and where it’s most convenient for the patient.”

    With the dramatic change in lifestyle experienced by millions of Americans, stress levels and domestic disputes are up, making mental health counseling an especially timely and important offering, the company says.

    CloudWell Health provides patients the safety and convenience of live video visits and coaching, leveraging technology to increase the accessibility of healthcare and wellness services via teleconference consultations. CloudWell’s standard of care is to ensure patients are speaking with a staff member within 60 minutes of registering.

    The company accepts all major insurance providers, so users with health insurance have a zero co-pay.  For those without insurance, sessions with health care professionals are available for a flat-rate fee of $119.99. 

    Central Oahu public schools adopt ‘active play’ tech

    Students use the Splats app on an iPad or Chrome browser to code the rules that tell Splats when to light up, make sounds and collect points.

    Teachers at Leilehua High School, Wheeler Elementary School, and Solomon Elementary School will begin incorporating programmable floor buttons called “Unruly Splats” into their classes this spring.

    The buttons, made by Unruly Studios, can be programmed by students to to light up, make sounds, and collect points to play games like whack-a-mole, four corners, or any game of their own making. The system is designed to incorporate STEM education across classrooms.

    “This is the first STEM learning tool I’ve seen that combines computer science with social and emotional learning,” said Grant Toyooka, a resource manager for the Leilehua Complex. “The ease of use and playful exterior of Splats help to demystify computer science for students as well as teachers, making them easy to integrate into any classroom.”

    “Unruly Splats break all the rules of traditional computer science education by getting students out from behind the computer screen and engaging with each other,” he adds.

    Unruly Splats will be part of the Leilehua Complex library system’s growing resource center of hands-on technology, including computers, microscopes, and 3D printers.

    “Unruly Splats are an exciting addition to our library, which serves as a center of learning and exploration for our entire community,” said Jenny Yamamoto, a Library Media Specialist at Leilehua High School. “As more classes transition back to in-person, teachers are coming to the library looking for tools just like this to engage their students both mentally and physically.”

    The Leilehua Complex will receive 24 Splats through its annual Unruly Splats membership. In addition, teachers will have access to continuous technical support, coaching, and resources developed by education and curriculum experts at Unruly Studios.

    Unruly Splats are designed to help schools fulfill a wide range of high priority learning objectives including:

    • Cross-curricular STEM learning: A Gallup study found that 9 in 10 parents want their kids to learn computer science in school. Unruly Splats allow teachers to incorporate STEM into any subject, including general education, PE, and even music!
    • Breaking down barriers in STEM by combining coding with play: The games kids play with Unruly Splats encourage physical movement, helping to combat a decades long drop in active-play for children exacerbated by the pandemic.
    • Collaborative games that connect students virtually and in-person: A cloud-based app allows kids and teachers to code and play games with Unruly Splats, no matter the setting: in-school, virtual, or hybrid.
    • Inclusive activities rooted in the CASEL framework for SEL: Activities focus on the core CASEL competencies of social and emotional learning including self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

    “Our goal is always to make working with Unruly Splats just as much fun for the teachers as it is for the students,” said Bryanne Leeming, CEO and founder of Unruly Studios. “We are looking forward to supporting the Leilehua Complex’s ambitious vision to integrate coding into classrooms at all grade levels and to break down stereotypes around what it means to learn to code.”

    About Unruly Studios

    Unruly Studios is the creator of Unruly Splats, the first STEM learning tool that combines coding with active-play. Students build their own games with programmable floor buttons that they can code to light up, make sounds, and collect points when stomped on. Unruly Studios’ vision is to create an electronic playground that makes learning more playful, collaborative, and inclusive. The team is made up of experts in cognitive science, toy manufacturing, education, and technology who bring broad industry experience from Scratch, Hasbro, Mattel, Nickelodeon, iRobot, Disney, and MIT Media Lab.

    ‘Shakas’ remote work program selects first 50 participants

    Movers and Shakas, an initiative to attract former Hawaii residents and other out-of-state professionals to work remotely from Hawaii while volunteering in the local community, has confirmed its first cohort.

    The fifty participants work in a wide range of industries, including technology, education, consulting, energy, and financial services, and 65 percent are former Hawaii residents.

    Nicole Lim

    “We look forward to the contributions of our initial cohort of outstanding remote workers, who will contribute their time and skills to impactful projects with local nonprofits in Hawaii,” explained Nicole Lim, director of Movers and Shakas. “Over the next few months, this group will be engaging with the community in a way that creates a sense of shared stewardship for our natural and cultural resources.

    “As a long term goal, this program will help us build resilience in our economy by further exploring remote work opportunities – especially in our tech and innovation sectors,” Lim added.

    All participants will attend pre-departure orientations and cultural training provided by the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. Members of the cohort will arrive in Honolulu over the next few months and each participant is expected to work from Hawaii for at least 30 days.

    This initial group will receive free round-trip tickets to Oahu, donated by United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and will be provided access to special discounts at local hotels. They will receive no additional payment beyond the compensation and benefits they currently receive from their own employers.

    “I understand that Hawaii has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and I appreciate that this program is looking for ways to create a more resilient, less-tourism dependent economy by cultivating an ecosystem of remote workers,” said program participant Olivia Papa, an engagement manager at a global consulting firm who will be moving from Orlando, Florida. “I look forward to creating a deeper connection with Hawaii to truly understand its people, history and culture, something I would not have been able to do in just a short stay to Hawaii.”

    “I left Hawaii right after high school, but still consider it my true home,” said Jennica Goo, a full-stack software engineer who works remotely for Zillow Group and was one of the founding members of the company’s Indigenous People’s Network. “I am most excited about the opportunity to volunteer with nonprofits and put my skills to work where I can benefit the local community the most. I want to look for opportunities to connect my work at Zillow with the Native Hawaiian community.”

    During their stay, participants will volunteer with non-profit partners such as the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Literacy, The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together, and Girls Scouts of Hawaii for at least 15 hours a week.

    “We are extremely excited to begin our partnership with the Movers and Shakas program to bring new opportunities to our girls – especially in the area of STEM education,” said Shari Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of Hawaii. “The volunteers will provide extra assistance as we build our STEM Center for Excellence at Camp Paumalū on the North Shore of Oahu, as well as help to craft and deliver virtual programs centered around STEM careers.”

    Program organizers were overwhelmed with the response of nearly 90,000 applicants for 50 initial spots. This pilot group will help refine plans for the future as the program looks for ways to grow.

    Funding for Movers and Shakas was provided through donations from a variety of founding organizations, with support from 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.

    About Movers and Shakas

    Movers and Shakas aims to attract socially responsible remote workers to come to Hawaii and actively contribute to the community. The program is rooted in three pillars: people, economy and caring for Hawaii. The 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 about the Movers and Shakas program, visit www.moversandshakas.org.

    Hawaii to accept Clear Health Pass to skip travel quarantine

    Starting February 18, travelers on select flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) through Delta Air Lines and United Airlines can enroll and use the Clear Health Pass system to securely link their negative COVID-19 test results to their verified identity before traveling.

    The pilot program, allowing a third party to facilitate pre-travel testing verification alongside the state’s Safe Travels program, will create an easier and more seamless travel experience, Clear said in a press release.

    Instead of the mandatory 10-day quarantine, travelers may provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their Hawaii-bound flight through Clear’s Health Pass app.

    “Safe travel is important for our residents and visitors, and this pilot program is another step forward in achieving this goal,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige. “I thank Clear and its airline partners who are working together to provide a convenient pre-travel testing option for both returning residents and those who are coming to Hawaii for work or vacation.”

    “Clear is about making life easier and safer. That is why we are thrilled to team up with Hawaii to help create a seamless and safe travel experience as they continue to welcome back visitors,” said Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker. “Whether it is with sports, work or travel, our innovative Health Pass solution is helping people get back to what they know, love and miss.”

    Clear says its Health Pass will help generate economic impact through tourism while helping to maintain the health of the local community, safely bringing people back to what they know and love while helping reimagine the future of sports, work, and travel.

    Health Pass is a free, mobile experience by Clear, which securely connects a person’s verified identity to multiple layers of COVID-19 related insights, including vaccination results, to reduce public health risk. Clear offers passengers traveling to Honolulu additional lab options for Hawaii’s Safe Travel COVID-19 test requirement.

    Health Pass users will be able to find a convenient testing option, among Clear’s large nationwide network of healthcare entities, labs and at-home testing options.

    Trust and transparency is Clear’s number one priority, and with Health Pass, users are always in control of their health data. More than 35 organizations are currently using Health Pass to create safer environments, including the National Hockey League, MGM Resorts, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and many more.

    Hawaiian Telcom receives $24 million to bring broadband to rural Hawaii

    Hawaiian Telcom has been awarded $24 million from a Federal Communications Commission fund dedicated to “bridging the digital divide.”

    The funding, part of the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, will go toward deploying fiber broadband service to homes and businesses in unserved and underserved rural areas in Hawaii on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii Island and Molokai.

    Hawaiian Telcom will be connecting 8,000 locations with 1 gigabit-per-second download and 500 megabit-per-second upload speeds by the end of 2027.

    One gig speed, or 1,000 Mbps, is 100 times faster than the average Internet speed in the U.S., according to Hawaiian Telcom. One gig enables multiple connected devices to run bandwidth-intense applications like streaming video, cloud-based services and video conferencing simultaneously without sacrificing quality.

    A 2019 Deloitte study found that the average U.S. household supports 11 connected devices including seven with smart screens to view content.

    “The Internet has become an indispensable platform for innovation, education, healthcare and economic opportunities that’s critical to our quality of life,” said Su Shin, President and General Manager. “Hawaiian Telcom remains committed to helping to bridge the digital divide here in Hawaii by extending our fiber-powered broadband service to as many locations as possible as quickly as possible.”

    Hawaiian Telcom will reach out to customers when their locations have been enabled for fiber services. Residents can also visit hawaiiantel.com, click “Check Availability,” and submit their address to see what speed their location qualifies for.

    A company spokesperson notes that the federal funding doesn’t cover all of Hawaiian Telcom’s costs to deploy broadband infrastructure in these rural areas, but that they “believe in investing in our communities.”

    Since 2010, Hawaiian Telcom has invested more than 500 million dollars in expanding its statewide fiber network. The company has successfully deployed broadband service across 178,000 locations including 10,000 homes and businesses in rural areas.

    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.

    Hawaii scholarship matching site goes national

    Scholar’s App, an end-to-end virtual scholarship platform serving students, schools, and scholarship programs, announced last week that it was expanding from the Hawaii market to the entire country.

    The national launch follows a major milestone for the startup, which was founded by then-student CEO Traven Watase in 2015. The company says that it connected students with more than $20 million in college scholarships across 5,000 participating schools in 2019.

    “We are excited to grow to public and private high schools throughout the U.S., especially during this time when virtual services are more important than ever,” Watase said.

    All scholarships are fully screened by counselors prior to posting to prevent fraud and reduce data mining scams.

    “This allows everyone in the process – from students to counselors to donors – to feel comfortable in a trusted virtual platform that removes traditional barriers in the system,” Watase explained.

    In its first three years, Scholar’s App achieved 100 percent public high school participation in Hawaii, including at Hawaii’s largest public high school James Campbell High School, where each student is offered access to a Scholar’s App account starting in their sophomore year.

    “Scholar’s App provides access to a growing number of scholarships in one easy-to-use format for our students, complete with personalized reminders that encourage the completion of each application – that is a big help for our busy students,” said Eleyne Fia, career/college counselor at James Campbell High School. “Scholar’s App is a trusted resource for us that provides enhanced protection to ensure student privacy and vet only the best scholarship opportunities.”

    Benefits of Using Scholar’s App:

    • Students: Easily register, search, track and submit scholarship applications online, without printing, collecting and submitting forms from multiple sources. Student data is never sold or provided to third parties, and all scholarships are sorted and verified to ensure students don’t sacrifice time or privacy to receive the support they need.
    • Counselors: Streamline and automate the entire scholarship application process and tailor preferences for each student, while tracking progress to ensure timely completion. Enjoy time-saving tools such as electronic transcript submission and e-signature capability, and review applications at a glance from one easy-to-use dashboard portal.
    • Donors: Don’t let another call for scholarships go unanswered. In minutes, donors can customize each scholarship to reach the right students and ensure that they are connected with multiple high-quality applications. We make it so easy that Scholar’s App donors are inspired to expand their scholarship giving by an average of 5-10 percent.
    • Parents: The new Scholar’s App account for parents allows for convenient communication between school counselors and parents, and provides an easy way for parents to monitor each step of their child’s scholarship process.

    To learn more and get started, visit scholarsapp.com.

    About Scholar’s App

    Founded in 2015, San Francisco-based Scholar’s App is expanding to serve high schools throughout the U.S. with a trusted and verified online platform that streamlines the scholarship application process for students, school counselors and donors. Scholar’s App is the leading U.S. end-to- end virtual scholarship service, ensuring college students receive the support they need. Scholar’s App is a Blue Startups technology company, selected to participate in the tenth cohort of the Hawaii business accelerator. For more, visit scholarsapp.com.

    Hawaii ready to expand cryptocurrency pilot

    The State of Hawaii’s Digital Currency Innovation Lab (DCIL) is inviting additional cryptocurrency companies to join its “digital currency sandbox.” The program launched in August 2020 with 11 participants, and the lab is looking to build a second cohort.

    The lab was formed through a partnership between the Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) under the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC).

    “Despite the pandemic, the DCIL had a strong start and we have experienced positive traction with the first cohort of companies,” said DFI commissioner Iris Ikeda, commissioner. “We are ready to grow our program and welcome established digital currency companies to join us in enabling financial innovation.”

    The second cohort will join the 11 companies of the program’s inaugural group: Apex CryptobitFlyer USABlockFi TradingCEX.IOCloud NaluCoinmeErisXFlexa NetworkGemini Trust CompanyNovi Financial, and River Financial.

    SEE ALSO: Japanese Bitcoin exchange bitFlyer launches in Hawaii

    Newly admitted companies gain the opportunity to conduct business in Hawaii without the need to obtain a state money transmitter license through June 30, 2022. This is made possible with the issuance of a “no action message” by DFI, which will not take any action against these companies during the two-year period of the program.

    The companies, however, will still be required to comply with other sections of the money transmitter laws.

    “The feedback we obtained from participating companies and consumers regarding the DCIL is encouraging,” said Len Higashi, acting executive director of HTDC. “While the pandemic undoubtedly affected the local development of activities utilizing digital currency that we were initially hoping for, the excitement around its potential in Hawaii has not been dampened.”

    Companies interested in joining the second round should apply through the HTDC website by February 26, 2021, 5:00 p.m. (HST).

    For more details on the application and DCIL pilot program, visit the HTDC website at www.htdc.org/programs/#dcil-section.

    Remote work program appoints director

    Movers and Shakas,” a public-private initiative to recruit out-of-state professionals and former Hawaii residents to work remotely from Hawaii while volunteering in the local community, has named Nicole Lim as its director.

    Lim, A graduate of Iolani School, herself had returned home to work remotely. She will lead and provide strategic direction to the program as it prepares to welcome its first cohort of 50 participants over the next few months.

    “We all envision a future for Hawaii with a more diversified economy,” said Lim. “I’m grateful to be chosen to lead Movers and Shakas, as we seek to reduce dependence on tourism by cultivating sectors like technology and encouraging remote work.

    “I look forward to working with the team and with the first group of participants who will be volunteering in our community and cultivating a sense of shared stewardship for Hawaii’s culture and natural resources,” she added.

    Lim is a consultant and executive coach with more than 15 years of international experience in finance and technology. She previously worked as a senior manager in corporate strategy and global expansion for eBay, and as a management consultant for L.E.K. Consulting in Los Angeles and Sydney.

    Lim holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “Nicole is a prime example of someone who took the pandemic as an opportunity to come home, reunite with family, work remotely and contribute to our economy and community,” said Lynelle Marble, executive director of the Hawaii Executive Collaborative, one of the organizing partners of the Movers & Shakas program. “We are excited to have Nicole lead the initiative, as she embodies everything that we would hope for from an M&S participant – talented and committed to making Hawaii a better place.”

    After its widely-covered launch last month, the Movers and Shakas program attracted thousands of applicants, including many former residents, interested in working remotely from the islands. In addition to contributing to the local economy, participants are expected to share their expertise and professional connections to support the community and nurture local talent during their time in Hawaii.

    The initial group chosen for the program will receive a free round-trip ticket to Oahu and access to special promotions and other benefits.

    After a competitive application and interview process, the program selected 200 finalists and expects to confirm the first cohort of 50 participants in the coming weeks.

    About Movers and Shakas 

    Movers and Shakas is an initiative to recruit purpose-driven remote workers to help build a more resilient economy in Hawaii and create a reimagined model of tourism where visitors are actively involved in giving back, caring for our land, and restoring our island home. The program aims to increase resilience in our economy by bringing back former residents, as well as out-of-state individuals, to boost Hawaii’s growing entrepreneurship and innovation sectors. Participants will receive exclusive promotions and will give back to the community by volunteering with local nonprofits and participating in knowledge, skill and cultural exchange. For more information about the Movers & Shakas program, visit www.moversandshakas.org.

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