To aid suspected novel coronavirus (COVID-19) victims, a group of developers and physicians has launched CoronaTracker, an open-source, decentralized web app.
Released today in beta, CoronaTracker lets sick individuals keep track of daily symptoms via built-in health surveys. The app is designed to help smooth and facilitate the process of sharing information with doctors if eventually seeking medical treatment. The app also features an educational component to help stamp out misinformation about the virus and pandemic.
The decentralized app runs on Blockstack’s blockchain, with users able to decide who has access to their medical data. According to CoronaTracker’s developers, this was an essential consideration, especially amidst fears about the sale or theft of private data.
“CoronaTracker is a proof of concept that emphasizes control of personal information, the potential for data interoperability, security and privacy as features to deal with siloed systems, and minimizes ‘data risk,’” project organizer Anthony Albertorio explained to Decrypt.
“Decentralization is a good method to spread the data to lower risk to the user. Having all your data in one location begs to be hacked by ransomware that can cripple an institution,” said Albertorio.
Albertorio, a former ConsenSys “technology evangelist,” explained that by decentralizing user data, the vulnerable people who are seeking help through the app can rest assured that their personal information is not being sold to third parties. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds an editorially independent Decrypt.)
“The users are in control,” said CoronaTracker’s project organizer. “We looked to Blockstack as an ideal platform on which to build CoronaTracker because it decentralizes user information into individual data silos, and because Blockstack’s motto is ‘can’t be evil,’ which extended our values of doing good to help people in this uncertain time.”
A screenshot of the CoronaTracker app. Image: CoronaTracker
According to a release, the app’s project advisory board includes pulmonologist Dr. Jigna Zatakia from Mount Sinai Hospital, emergency room physician Dr. Kristen Kent, and Dr. Sigmund Hough, a clinical rehabilitation neuropsychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
CoronaTracker was a winning project in the #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon, as well as a top-20 finisher in Hack Zurich’s Code vs COVID-19 Hackathon. Along with further UI and UX polish, the developers plan to expand its SMS notification capabilities and add any further emerging COVID-19 symptoms as they appear.
“Together, with Anthony and Carter [Klein, engineering lead], we took our handful of builders and scaled CoronaTracker to an open source community of 260+ people across four countries, five states, and 10 languages,” said Brian Hough, UI/UX lead.
“CoronaTracker is truly a movement. We will be able to look back on this scary time in our Earth’s history and say: We stood up, combined blockchain and digital technologies, and fought back against COVID-19.”