HONOLULU(KHON2) –Hawaii’s Safe Travels application already hit some snags and is undergoing upgrades just eight days after its roll-out.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

The app requires everyone traveling to Hawaii from the mainland and from Oahu to the neighbor islands to register online and allows multiple state and county agencies to access information. But changes are already being implemented, pushing the cost of the app to over the $1 million mark.

In the eight days since the apps launch, more than 27,000 people have booked into the system according to Hawaii Enterprise Technology Services Chief Information Officer Doug Murdock. Although Murdock said the app is far superior to the system the state used prior, he admitted it’s not perfect.

“It’s new and it’s complex technology so we know there’s going to be a few hiccups. So we apologize for that,” said Murdock.

There are several problems that have come to light.

“We have one concern where people aren’t able to do their daily check-in. We have about 10,000 people in quarantine right now. About 600 have’t been able to do their daily check in,” Murdock explained.

There are also problems validating phone numbers and addresses. Murdock said both issues are being fixed.

The app is meant to expedite the travel screening process, collect vital health and travel information, help state and counties monitor those in quarantine, address violations and protect the public in real time. All of that involves a great deal of communication and coordination between multiple agencies.

According to the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Chair Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, there are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out.

“You have the Attorney General doing certain things. You have the police department doing certain things, you have airport, previously you had HTA, but we don’t have a central hub to coordinate everybody, to update procedures and policies as they go along.”

“It’s almost as though people are going, ‘Well that’s not my job, that’s not my job to do that.’ And so the governor, at this point, needs to put somebody in charge of overseeing it from the beginning to the end,” Dela Cruz said.

Murdock said there is great coordination between the governor, mayors, attorney general, county councils and emergency management offices in terms of getting data out. He said his department is making upgrades that will help.

“We’re building a more robust dashboard because an important element of this is to provide data to the counties so they can do law enforcement. Our focus right now is on analyzing errors in the data and problem areas and getting the dashboards correct so counties can do their job,” Murdock explained

He said they’re also creating a calling system that will make automated outbound calls and allow daily check-ins via phone.

Upgrades to the dashboard will cost roughly $100,000, and the chatbot and call in capabilities will cost another $300,000. When added to the initial $638,000 it cost to build the application, it brings the total cost to more than $1 million.

According to Murdock, that doesn’t include the help desk in the application which costs another $500,000 for the first four months.

Ultimately, he said the application is something the state needs because having access to real time information is the key to safely reopening Hawaii to tourism.

“Enforcing the quarantine, having real time information for that purpose is a big deal. We were working with paper before and the paper had to be scanned and there were a lot of inaccuracies on it. The application informs us the second somebody checks in at the airport we know they’re here. We know if they’re in quarantine or not and we can start to enforce the quarantine and ultimately its about trying to reopen the economy.”

Murdock said though it is possible to add location tracking to the application, the attorney general has advised them not to add it yet. Location tracking is one of the things Governor David Ige said the app would be capable of doing.

Latest Stories on KHON2