Mar 21, 2020

COVID-19 contact tracking app: volunteers needed

Third update from the project coordinator: 

The first three rounds of volunteers have done an amazing job. All EU languages except Maltese and Irish Gaelic have been completed or are in progress, as are some other languages. 

Development specialist Krisztian Werderits is creating a pro bono app – VirusContact – to assist in tracing contacts in the event that someone becomes infected with the novel coronavirus currently wreaking havoc across the globe. A description of the project can be found here.

Gergely Vandor of memoQ Ltd. contacted me to talk about the project and the need for volunteers to assist in localization into all EU languages if possible. Current app languages are Hungarian and English. The company will be providing server resources to organize the project. Those who are able and willing to volunteer in this effort should contact Gergely at I'm not generally one to encourage pro bono work given the abuses one often finds with such, but I think the present world situation warrants an exception here.

The app basically works by temporarily recording proximate, unlinked Bluetooth devices (mobile phones generally) so that if you are tested positive, all such "contacts" from the past 14 days can be notified automatically. The data maintained by the app and deleted after two weeks have passed are the

  • Bluetooth unique ID 
  • GPS location of the encounter
  • distance (if possible to determine)
  • encounter's duration (if possible to determine)

Once a user confirm their own infection, all others with devices that have been near in the past 14 days (i.e. the presumed incubation period) will be notified of their exposure, with the aforementioned details included.