A mobile app, from a small central Vancouver Island medical software company, gathers a cell phone’s GPS data that can be used for contact tracing when people are exposed to COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

A mobile app, from a small central Vancouver Island medical software company, gathers a cell phone’s GPS data that can be used for contact tracing when people are exposed to COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

Vancouver Island medical software company creates COVID-19 contact tracing app

Creators of GPS-based app say it could save lives at a critical time in the pandemic

A small central Vancouver Island medical applications software company has developed a COVID-19 contact tracing app that it says could speed up the process and save lives.

Parksville-based Verified Network was founded in 2013 to develop applications that allow medical professionals to conduct secure communications, including video conferencing, and share medical records between doctors, specialists and patients.

This week the company is releasing Verified TrackBack, a mobile app that alerts users if they’ve potentially been exposed to COVID-19.

The app works by recording GPS data from the user’s cell phone – there is no communication with other phones or devices – for 20 days, a period several days longer than the COVID-19 incubation period. Data older than 20 days is discarded.

“The idea was that we’d create an app that the individual can carry around in their day-to-day life without even thinking about it, but if they get into a situation where they do become symptomatic or have been exposed to COVID, they’ll need to be able to say, well, these are the folks that I’ve been in contact with, these are the locations I’ve visited over a period of time,” said Andy Chapman, Verified Network chief executive officer and software developer.

READ ALSO: Contact tracing is crucial, says medical health officer

COVID Alert, a contact tracing app currently used by the federal government, relies on Bluetooth to function. The problem with that arrangement, Chapman said, is the user must have Bluetooth turned on, so there’s added drain on the phone’s battery, and the phone is continually communicating with other devices via Bluetooth, which he said is worrisome because one doesn’t know what information is being communicated to other devices within a 15- to 20-metre radius.

“The way our app works is a little bit different,” Chapman said. “The individual can turn it on or off at any time and all it does is store GPS location.”

Should a cell phone’s owner develop COVID symptoms, the stored GPS data could be used, for example, by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s contact tracing staff allowing the CDC to relay to Island Health that there was a potential exposure at a specific place and time.

“Or, through our application, they can actually send a note to any other [app user] that was in the same location or time frame,” Chapman said. “So if there happened to be three, five, 10 other people using the app in that location, our app would send a notification through saying you’ve been exposed or potentially exposed. You should probably contact your health care provider … We don’t use Bluetooth and we certainly don’t share any information that is personal to that individual. The only information we capture is the unique device ID … and the co-ordinates related to that device, the GPS latitude and longitude.”

Three weeks of time and location data can quickly offer accurate contact tracing, the company said, which can benefit the user, businesses the user visited, and health authorities.

The more people who have the app, the more effective it is at being able to provide warnings, so Verified Network is offering it free for individuals.

Chapman said the app can also be used as a personal tracker for sports and outdoor activities and personal safety.

READ ALSO: Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

Dr. Julian Lisinski, a long-time Ladysmith family and ER physician, Verified Network’s medical advisor and one of the company’s founders, said he has been in contact with Island Health, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and other government contacts across Canada about the app and the company will demonstrate it to representatives at McMaster University this week.

As numbers of COVID infections continue to rise during the pandemic’s second phase and vaccines are weeks to months away from being widely available, he said, the app could save lives.

“We’re trying to get the word out that there is an app that is free on an individual basis, that we are convinced – I am convinced as a physician – that if enough people had this app, the contact tracing for COVID would be speeded up significantly,” Lisinski said. “This app would save lives and it’s such a simple thing to do … we need to get this app out because it will make a massive difference at a time that is critical.”

Verified TrackBack is currently being reviewed by Apple App Store and Google Play and could be available for download as of Friday, Dec. 11. For more information, visit http://verifiedtrackback.ca.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmedical devicestech industry

Just Posted

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

These Douglas fir logs were found poached in April on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
Fines in forest reserve could increase significantly after illegal logging

North Cowichan considering fines of up to $50,000

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Letters to the Editor.
Snipes prank not worth celebrating

Is another form of bullying deserving of a bronze statue?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read