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07 Jul,2020

Martine Hellman and Whitfield Diffie Break Ground in COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Source: WLA

On July 3rd, Prof. Hellman tweeted an innovative project he participated was praised and reported widely. A research group lead by 2007 Marconi Fellow Ron Rivest has been working on developing the Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT) Project to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The PACT Project uses Bluetooth technology on smartphones to alert people who have recently been near someone who tested positive for coronavirus. The app tells users how close they were standing to an infected person and for how long. The inspiration for PACT came from a Bluetooth approach created by Rivest. This approach has the capability to detect other close-by devices by emitting a random and anonymous signal, also called a “chirp.” The app is designed to make people’s phone send out chirps constantly and record all the signals it picks up which are pseudonymous, constantly changing their ‘ID,’ and that can preserve privacy effectively.