Digital Contact Tracing

A privacy-first tech tool to help manage the spread of Covid-19

Support Healthcare Workers, Protect Privacy, Save Lives

Contact tracing is critical to containing the spread of coronavirus. Manual contact tracing is a high-touch process managed by public health officials. As the number of confirmed cases in a community rise and sick patients require more attention, preventative efforts like contact tracing become deprioritized in favor of direct treatment. But contact tracing is just as critical in order to combat the spread of the disease.

Alternatives to manual processes can be found in the form of new technologies. Surveillance tech has been used to automate and expand capacity for contact tracing but at a high cost to individual privacy. This trade-off has been part of the management strategy in places like South Korea and Singapore with a high degree of success through a contact tracing method known as “broadcasting”.

We have an opportunity for a different path in KC. A newly-developed, open-source approach to contact tracing out of MIT that puts privacy first can provide robust contact tracing data and relieve the burden of front-line health workers. As a bonus, the tech is powered by a KC company. If we can encourage widespread usage of this app in our community now, we have the ability to conserve resources as we approach our local peak, develop a more holistic containment strategy to prevent a recurrence, and potentially save 100s or 1000s of lives in the KC metro.

Here is an evolving FAQ with more information about containment strategies, contact tracing, and the SafePaths / TripleBlind approach. Read more about the underlying privacy principles here. And you can check out the code on Github.

To deliver on this strategy we need

  • Political will to encourage adoption of this app as part of our unified messaging around Covid-19 mitigation
  • Buy-in from the health care community that this solution will meet their contact tracing needs and become part of patient workflow
  • Transparency to citizens and residents to trust that the privacy safeguards built into the software are real; and we need people to download and enable the app.

We are working to coordinate with civic leaders, public health officials, and privacy advocates in the KC metro to build this capacity to protect our region. Please email covid19@kcdigitaldrive.org for more info. Learn more about related efforts around symptom self-reporting here.

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