News Flash

Town of Jackson

Posted on: June 30, 2020

CONTACT TRACING MOBILE APP - PATHCHECK SAFEPLACES

Corona Virus

What is PathCheck SafePlaces?

PathCheck SafePlaces is the privacy-centric phone app that Teton County has chosen to assist in the contact tracing process.  Contact tracing is the method by which healthcare workers talk to patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to identify who they were in close contact with.  These close contacts are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others in our community.

PathCheck SafePlaces acts as a private digital diary of users’ locations.  The app works by maintaining a time stamped log of a phone’s GPS location.  During a contact tracing interview this information will help cue a patient to remember all the places they have been while infectious.  It applies technology to the traditional contact tracing process, reducing memory errors and notifying possible contacts much more efficiently. Key differentiators from traditional contact tracing include the following: 

  • A faster and more accurate patient interview: Instead of relying on memory, diagnosed patients can opt to provide their 14-day location trail to health officials.
  • Be notified if you’ve crossed paths: Patient’s anonymized and blurred location trail is used by the app to notify other users who may have come in close contact with a diagnosed COVID-19 patient. Healthy user’s data never leaves their phone.
  • Wondering more about how the app works, why you should download it, and how it protects your privacy? We hear you! Keep on reading for more information. 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S)

What about User Information Privacy? What If I don’t want to share my personal information with the Health Department?

PathCheck SafePlaces was founded on a belief that there is a false division between the privacy of patient data and the utility of the data to society. The effectiveness of any mobile device initiative that betrays public trust is undermined by each individual’s ability to opt out by turning off their phone, changing the setting, or leaving it at home.  PathCheck SafePlaces aims to prevent privacy risks from occurring in the first place by strictly minimizing any data leaving a device and enforcing the strictest consent requirements . You decide if you want to share your locations with the Health Department.

How does PathCheck preserve privacy?

Our solutions deploy a number of techniques to preserve individual privacy:

-  The app does not ask for any personally identifiable information like name or email.

-  Your encrypted location history is saved on your phone, not a server.  It is only saved for 14 days at which time it is deleted.

-  If you test positive for COVID-19, it is your choice if you want to share your location history with the Teton County Health Department.

-  When the Health Department uses a list of potential exposure locations for the last 14 days, that list does not contain any potentially identifiable information. 

-   In order to check if you’ve been at any place published by the Health Department as at risk, the analysis is done on your phone, so you never have to upload your location history to a centralized server.

How does it work?

 PathCheck SafePlaces is an Android/iOS app available for both mobile platforms.  Whenever location access is enabled for your PathCheck app, the app saves the following information about each place you take your phone at 5 minute intervals: the GPS coordinates, date, and times your phone was in that location.  This information is stored in an encrypted list within your phone for up to 14 days, after which it is deleted.

 If you test positive for COVID-19, a healthcare worker will call you with questions about your activities--where you’ve been, who you’ve been around--since 48 hours before symptoms began. If you’ve downloaded the app, you can then consent to release this information to the Teton County Health Department to help facilitate a conversation.  Having the app takes away the guesswork of where you’ve been and when.

For users who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19, the app can notify them of potential exposure.  Under the supervision of contact tracers, patient data from public places is anonymized and aggregated.  Private locations, like residences, are redacted.  Pathcheck SafePlaces then compares this anonymous dataset to the user’s 14 day location trail.  If there has been sustained overlap between the location of user’s phone and a patient’s phone there is an increased probability that the user has been exposed to the virus.  The app then notifies users of potential exposure.

How can you tell if I came in close contact with a COVID-19 carrier?

Our goal is to use contact tracing so that users can tell if they came within 30 feet of a diagnosed carrier for defined time range.  This is based upon time-stamped GPS data.  We never assert that any given individual has definitively come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier.

Who should download PathCheck SafePlaces?

Everyone! If you live, work, visit, or spend any time in Teton County - please download the app.



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