Research at Nebraska 2019-2020 Report

App Could Speed Contact Tracing

A Nebraska researcher’s software could help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Bilal Khan, Happold Professor of Sociology and professor of computer science and engineering, developed the contact-tracing application for social science research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Now, five years later, we have this system that already exists and doesn’t need to be designed and built from scratch,” Khan said. “Our goal is to leverage it and quickly put something into use.”

Bilal Khan

Users who download the app are assigned an anonymized identification number, which protects privacy by avoiding any connection to personal data. The system uses location and Bluetooth data to track users’ proximity, noting which ID numbers are in close contact with other ID numbers.

If an app user is diagnosed with COVID-19, health officials can download a list of all ID numbers potentially exposed to that person in the past 14 days and send in-app notifications.

Khan is working with NUtech Ventures, the university’s commercialization affiliate, to find a partner for implementation.

+ Additional content for App Could Speed Contact Tracing

Nebraska news release: Husker researcher develops contact tracing technology

Media Mention: Privacy-conscious app developed at UNL could help health officials with critical contact tracing (NET News, 5/20/2020)

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