An open source project which provides privacy-preserving contact tracing for communities using QR codes.
Contact tracing is the process of tracking down people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease after someone has tested positive. Those who may have been exposed are asked to self-isolate. Manual contact tracing has limitations both in terms of scale and accuracy; technology-based contact tracing may supplement manual efforts by offering fast, scalable, and anonymous contact tracing at public places.
Technology-based contact tracing exists and has already been used in some places. However, existing solutions rely on tracking your location data. Some people are not comfortable with this. TrackCOVID is an alternative contact tracing solution that protects your privacy by not collecting any data about you.
Users scan QR codes (checkpoints) as they enter public places. Scanning a checkpoint is like adding an entry to a private journal of places the user has been. When a patient tests positive, they have the option to share their checkpoint history with their doctor. The patient downloads a file from the web app and emails this file to their doctor. The doctor then uploads the file to a database through a secure administrative system. Whenever other users open the web app, their smartphones will compare their checkpoint history with the public database of exposed checkpoints. If there is a matching checkpoint within a certain time frame (e.g. 1 hour), the user is notified that they may have been exposed.
We have a proof-of-concept web application that you can try out for yourself today.
For those interested in taking next steps, we propose a concrete strategy for setting up QR code-based contact tracing in your community or jurisdiction, and we provide all of the source code necessary for this to happen. We believe our approach can add an additional layer of protection as public places begin reopening. Manual contact tracing in public places is very difficult, if not impossible in many cases. Our approach can help to notify people of potential exposure at these public places in a way that does not invade their privacy.
If you are interested, we are happy to collaborate as needed to make this a reality in your community. We do this as a public service without asking for anything in return. You can learn more about how this might work by checking out this page.Web app Contact Tracing for Communities
Our project has drawn some attention in the press, both locally and nationally:
|ABC7||UC Irvine students developing app to trace path, keep track of COVID-19 exposure checkpoints|
|Popular Science||Can smartphone apps track COVID-19 without violating your privacy?|
|Los Angeles Times||UC Irvine researchers develop app to help track COVID-19, but will people use it?|
|Orange County Business Journal||UCI Team Develops App For Coronavirus Tracing|
|Spectrum News 1||UCI Researchers Create Tech That Could Help with COVID-19 Contact Tracing|
|Journalist's Resource||Digital contact tracing and the coronavirus pandemic: 5 studies to know|