Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative
Active Dates: March 2020 -
Principal Investigators: Eric Schuldenfrei , Ashley Scott Kelly, Howard Huang of Nokia Bell Labs
COVID-19 is primarily spread two ways: 1) Via respiratory droplets; and 2) Transfer from a contaminated surface to the face via your hands (WHO, 2020). Awareness of both colocation and whether an individual has contacted a contaminated surface, such as a doorknob, is important and could better guide individuals toward self-quarantine and COVID-19 testing. Therefore, to contain the periodic spread of COVID-19 in communities, it is vital for individuals to know their personal 14-day exposure risk, which is a combination of having crossed paths with a confirmed COVID-19 case and having contacted a potentially contaminated surface.
Our proposal is a smartphone application and exposure risk assessment model that leverages existing technologies supplemented with the crowdsourced data outlined in this paper. The COVID-19 Geolocation App (the “App”) records an individual user’s location history and computes their exposure risk by cross-referencing that history with an Infectious Space-Time Map (ISTM). Exposure risk is computed entirely on one’s personal smartphone using a geographical subset of the ISTM, which is updated daily from a central server. If heightened exposure risk is detected, the App displays a notification on the user’s smartphone that suggests further action, such as self-quarantine, based on current epidemiological understanding. The ISTM is our proposed model that synthesizes the 14-day location history of voluntarily disclosed (and, in many contexts, health-authority confirmed) COVID-19 cases with existing outdoor and indoor geolocation technologies in public and semi-public spaces. The ISTM focuses explicitly on rapid deployment, user privacy, and flexible adoption of new epidemiological knowledge, such as increased risk due to prolonged exposure to a potentially infected user’s symptomatic phase, and geolocation technologies as they become available.