LSU Creates Cell Phone App for COVID-19 Contact Tracing


BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) – Researchers at Louisiana State University have created a mobile phone app to track COVID-19 exposures.

The Lawyers’ reports the GeauxTrace contact finder application uses the signal strength of the Bluetooth software available on most cell phones and computers to assess the distance between cell phones. Users who were in the vicinity of someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19 are informed of the possible exposure.

Google, Apple, and other tech companies have created similar cell phone-based tracking apps.

LSU electrical and computer science professor Lu Peng developed the university’s app with a group of students with a $ 890,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, officials said. ‘university.

People who use GeauxTrace are notified of a positive test if their cell phone is at least 6 feet from a person who tested positive in the past 14 days. Close contact should have lasted at least 15 minutes.

Each GeauxTrace user is assigned a random number that is not linked to his cell phone number. The random number is broadcast in the background to create a virtual card. This internal electronic map does not show the actual location of someone’s cell phone, but the relative distances between cell phones using the app as well.

Once a positive test is reported, people nearby are notified through the app that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive without knowing who or where.

The data is encrypted and spread across multiple servers to avoid the risk of hackers logging into a single machine and stealing health information, Peng said.

A privacy advocate suggested the app needed more protections.

Jon Callas, director of technology projects for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted that the app relies on self-reporting by users to publicize a positive test, leaving open the possibility of malicious self-reporting. to scare or discover other people.

Callas also told the newspaper that the app could be more secure if its random ID numbers change multiple times and the data is stored on individual phones instead of just servers.


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