Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, digital contact-tracing has been highlighted as a critical technology to stop COVID-19 transmission. Contact tracing has been a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades. In a pandemic such as COVID-19, communities must scale up and train a large contact tracer workforce and work collaboratively across public and private agencies to stop the transmission of virus. However, it is very challenging to timely prepare the workforce due to the scale and speed of a pandemic. As an alternative solution, digital contact tracing has been introduced as a method of contact tracing that takes advantage of mobile devices to determine contact between an infected patient and a user. IMSC researcher, Prof. Cyrus Shahabi, and his team have pioneered the idea of digital contact tracing, especially individualized risk analysis with consideration of privacy of users. His research could help officials trace where the virus is going and alert nearby people automatically, advising testing or temporary isolation. At the same time, using computer modeling, the researchers aim to detect not only direct transmission, but also contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g., risky places) and indirect transmission. His team recently received an NSF Rapid grant with the idea. For more details about the research, the followings are the links to the articles published in the past month.

A Coronavirus Tracking App That’s Putting Privacy First, April 9, 2020

Governments around the world are trying a new weapon against coronavirus: Your smartphone, April 17, 2020

Why We Need More Than Bluetooth Data to Fight Covid-19, April 23, 2020

A Credit Score For Your COVID-19 Risk? USC Gets Federal Funds to Create a Location-Based Mobile App, April 30, 2020

California Lays Out Rules for Reopening Restaurants, How Digital Contact Tracing Could Contain the Coronavirus, The Mountain Messenger Newspaper, May 12, 2020