The prototype can visualize and compare location histories of different people (pink vs. purple). The visualization highlights matching locations at the same point in time (yellow).  Having to compile a list of visited places from memory is a trying task, even more so after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Our prototype can process the smartphone's location history provided by a user and visualize their movements.

COVID-19 is on the tip of everyone's tongue and the news is that the MHH, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, is developing a Corona warning app in cooperation with various companies. We’ve been getting many media inquiries as to Ubilabs’ role in the project.

Together with Dr. Gernot Beutel from the MHH, we have developed a first prototype that can help map Corona infection chains. This prototype is able to address two current challenges: 1) the quick and detailed mapping of locations visited by COVID-19 patients prior to diagnosis and 2) the assessment of one’s own risk of infection.

Independently of our collaboration with the MHH, the start-up ipGloves is developing an app called GeoHealth that will give users information on their COVID-19 infection risk via a traffic light system.

What does our Corona mapping prototype do?

The current procedure following a COVID-19 diagnosis involves patients compiling a list of all the places they have visited from memory, which naturally leads to rather inaccurate results. The key to a very accurate movement history of a person is actually quite simple: their smartphone. Most smartphone users have activated the tracking of their location history, so that the user's whereabouts are stored via the mobile phone's operating system or the location features of apps such as Google Maps. If patients were to provide access to this data voluntarily, our prototype could process their location data and visualize it on a map, making it easier to identify high-risk locations for potential contact persons. This would significantly simplify the work that institutions such as the Robert Koch Institute are currently doing manually.

Taking this approach further, an anonymous collection of such data could also be used to enable private individuals to assess their COVID-19 infection risk. We have further developed our prototype accordingly – into a data analysis platform that can compare location data of different people and visualize overlaps on a map. By comparing their own location history with the anonymized data of Corona patients, users could find out whether they were in the same places at the same time. The data would of course be compared anonymously – manually and locally on their own mobile phone or computer. This way, it wouldn’t leave the device and would not be accessible to anyone else. An exact assessment of their own risk of infection would give everyone another opportunity to react deliberately and informedly to COVID-19 and, in the best case, help ensure that the health system would only be used to the absolutely necessary extent.

For questions and suggestions on this topic, please contact our managing director Jens Wille via wille@ubilabs.net.