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Media Advisory: Expert Available to Comment on Digital Technologies for COVID-19 Tracking and Exposure Smart Phone Applications

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Over the past three months, 11 states across the U.S. have released smartphone applications (apps) to support tracking and tracing cases of COVID-19. Robert Furberg, Ph.D., senior clinical informaticist at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has been closely following the design, development, and dissemination of these apps. Dr. Furberg is available for media interviews on the uptake and acceptance of tracking technologies, evidence of their effectiveness, changes they could bring to our society, and concerns around personal data privacy.

A growing number of states are releasing exposure notification apps, yet we know very little about their effectiveness. In order to work, these apps rely on users to download the app from a public health authority, enable exposure logging on their Android or iOS device, and actively report positive test results in the app to initiate the exposure notification. If a community member tests positive for COVID-19 and reports through the app, an exposure notification will be distributed to individuals who were within six feet of the COVID-19 positive individual for 15 minutes or more.

Almost 50 countries have implemented similar measures to support tracking COVID-19 cases, but questions around acceptance and effectiveness of these technologies. To be successful, surveillance programs must reflect a balance between collective good and individual civil liberties to protect public health.

To set up an interview with Dr. Furberg email news@rti.org