An app that tracks where you have been and who you have crossed paths with—and then shares this personal data with other users in a privacy-preserving way—could help curb the spread of Covid-19, says Ramesh Raskar at the MIT Media Lab, who leads the team behind it. Called Private Kit: Safe Paths, the free and open-source app was developed by people at MIT and Harvard, as well as software engineers at companies such as Facebook and Uber, who worked on it in their free time.
How it works: Private Kit: Safe Paths gets around privacy concerns by sharing encrypted location data between phones in the network in such a way that it does not go through a central authority. This lets users see if they may have come in contact with someone carrying the coronavirus—if that person has shared that information—without knowing who it might be. A person using the app who tests positive can also choose to share location data with health officials, who can then make it public.
Raskar thinks that a fine-grained tracking approach, which would allow specific locations to be closed off and disinfected, is better than blanket shutdowns, which are socially and economically disruptive.
The original article can be found here.
Professor Alex Sandy Pentland, MIT, Co-founder of AIWS Innovation Network (AIWS.net), and Jeff Saviano, Member of AIWS.net, joined this MIT team. AIWS.net recommended a solution to help bring normalization to life and society based on this app.