Considerations for Digital Contact Tracing Tools for COVID-19 Mitigation: Recommendations for Stakeholders and Policymakers

This report highlights two digital contact tracing systems. The first is Google and Apple’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification Application Programming Interface (API), which would allow Bluetooth “chirps” from Google and Apple smartphone users to be accessible to public health authorities via third party applications and decentralized public health servers. This would ultimately allow the phone of a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 to anonymously make users aware they have been in close proximity to that patient. The second is the use of location services in contact tracing software applications; here the authors discuss Utah’s Healthy Together App developed by the social media company Twenty, and MIT-led Safe Paths, a software kit (currently in beta) that collects location trails from participating users’ smartphones and allows government public health officials to use their reported locations over time to identify overlaps with infected patients’ locations. As this report is released, the Bluetooth proximity method is widely considered the most privacy-preserving option.

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Additional Information

COVID-19, Contact tracing tools, digital tools
Last Update: 07/04/2020