A professor from Ball State University has engineered a COVID-19 early warning system. The university says the software is being developed for the TIPPERS system and can monitor social distancing and send alerts to help curb exposure during pandemics.
Associate professor of information technology Chris Davison is collaborating with researchers at the University of California, Irvine for the project. Davison says the software uses Wi-Fi connectivity with a mobile device and sensors to track and monitor activity as well as adherence to social distancing and crowded spaces.
“We’ve developed a system to alert people to the location of an infected person — also known as a hot spot. Your mobile device would receive a message, alerting you when you near an area with an infected person or an area that is too crowded and isn’t safe,” said Davison.
According to Davison, the system can be used to warn people if they’ve been at risk of exposure to the virus. Davison says the system can also be used by organizations to monitor their social distancing policies throughout a building, including large conference rooms and offices.
In addition to testing being done at Ball State, Davison says the system is also being tested by the U.S. Navy through the Department of Defense. The Navy first tested the mobile system in 2019 and then revised it to include COVID-19 in 2020.
“In the Navy’s tests, sailors are quickly told when an infected person moves from one area—or bubble—to another,” said Davison. “The alert would tell you to stay away from pier 13 because it is a contaminated space.”
The university says the monitoring system doesn’t collect private information and seeks permission to collect and use location data.