As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States, many in Silicon Valley have developed tech tools to help the public track COVID-19 cases and find COVID-19 testing sites. sf.citi highlights a few of these COVID-19 tech projects and initiatives below.
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CROWDSOURCED MAP OF COVID-19 TESTING SITES
sf.citi talked to Louis Leung, PH.D, a research scientist specializing in neuroscience with an interest in software engineering. He is working to build a crowdsourced map of all COVID-19 testing sites in the United States. Still a beta site, Testing for Covid responds to the urgent need for easy-to-access, accurate information about COVID-19 testing — especially the location of drive-thru sites — explained Leung.
In March, the State of California partnered with Verily, the life-science subsidiary of Google, to launch a similar COVID-19 testing website called Project Baseline. For now, however, the Baseline COVID-19 Program is limited to California. Another barrier, pointed out Leung, is that you have to create an account and provide personal information before you can complete a COVID-19 screening and find information on how and where to get tested for COVID-19.
Testing for Covid is not for profit and can be used by anyone in the United States. If the symptoms you mark are consistent with those of severe COVID-19 cases, you are directed to testing locations — both in-person and drive-thru — in your local area. The idea, said Leung, is that local residents can also do their part and use the site to crowdsource information about new and existing COVID-19 testing sites throughout the country.
Leung is currently looking for input and assistance to improve Testing for Covid. Here’s how you can help:
- Software Engineers. Work with Leung to test, scale, and fine-tune testingforcovid.com and build out additional user-friendly features. See https://github.com/louiscleung/testingforcovid.
- Medical Professionals. Help ongoing validation of the symptom list on testingforcovid.com and provide any other relevant medical or legal information.
- The Public (You). Input real-time information about your local COVID-19 testing sites on testingforcovid.com and share with others to ensure all testing information is as accurate as possible.
UNDERSTANDING AND TRACKING COVID-19
How We Feel
Co-Founder and CEO of sf.citi member Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, launched How We Feel in partnership with doctors and scientists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and others to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Built by a nonprofit called The How We Feel Project, the How We Feel app allows you to self-report your age, gender, zip code, and any health symptoms.
Aggregated data is then shared with scientists and public health professionals to better understand where COVID-19 is spreading and how to stop it. You do not have to create an account or enter your name, email, or phone number to complete the How We Feel health check-in, which takes less than a minute!
Every time a new user downloads the app and donates data, The How We Feel Project will donate a meal to people in need through Feeding America.
Product engineering lead and climate enthusiast, Erika Reinhardt, developed an interactive map of COVID-19 cases in California. Integrating data from reputable news sources like the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times, as well as The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, the Coronavirus Map now shows detailed data on COVID-19 cases and testing rates throughout the United States.
For each state, the Coronavirus Map provides digestible data sets on the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past few months. It also illustrates the number of COVID-19 tests being administered each week and the percentage of those tests that have come back positive. On the California Coronavirus Map, you can even overlay all of the data on COVID-19 cases and deaths with the Bay Area shelter-in-place mandate, which went into effect on March 17, 2020.
California COVID-19 Hospital Data
San Francisco-based product and engineering lead Clara Ko developed a website to track COVID-19 hospital occupancy in California. On her site, you can see which regions in California are experiencing the highest (and lowest) numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The site also indicates what percentage of general and ICU hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The data Ko has collected and visualized enables the state of California to closely monitor when and where its health care systems are being overtaxed due to COVID-19. In San Francisco, for example, just 10% of ICU beds have been occupied by COVID-19 patients to date, compared to 34% of ICU beds in Los Angeles (Los Angeles, it should be noted, has a much larger population than San Francisco).
Want to see how your county health care system is holding up against the spread of COVID-19 in California? Take a look here.
CONTACT TRACING FOR COVID-19
COVID Safe Paths is a community-driven collection of free, open-source tools and apps that will help trace people who have been in contact with individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.
Like How We Feel, Safe Paths aims to identify and limit the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing has proven effective in helping countries like South Korea contain the number of COVID-19 cases. Understanding whether you have been exposed to COVID-19 allows you to self-quarantine and seek medical care to keep yourself and others healthy.
Still a prototype, the Private Kit: Safe Paths app will use anonymized location data from a user’s smartphone to determine whether they’ve been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. All user tokens are encrypted and can only be unlocked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your local health authority. Other Safe Paths users and even the Safe Paths team cannot access your data.
COVID Safe Paths projects and tools are built by volunteers—including many engineers in Silicon Valley—and overseen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). You can sign up for Safe Paths updates and be among the first to find out when new versions of the Private Kit: Safe Paths app are released.
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There are undoubtedly countless other tech tools being developed to help our communities fight COVID-19. What other apps or initiatives should we know about? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.