With cases of the coronavirus still on the rise, people all over the world are doing their part to slow its spread. For most of us, that might mean that we’ve spent the past two months sitting within the confines of our own homes. The only journeys we’re embarking on is the walk from the couch to the pantry.
Qasim Wani, a sophomore majoring in computer engineering, and Sai Gurrapu, a junior majoring in computer science, are taking a slightly different approach. The pair has been working on an app, Preventiv, for the past 45 days that uses contact tracing to curb the spread of the virus.
Recent studies have shown that contact tracing has proved to be an effective measure to deter COVID-19. Contact tracing is the process of identifying an infected individual or someone who has come into contact with an infected person. Gurrapu and Wani developed an app that uses Bluetooth Low Energy for contact tracing on your smartphone.
Typically, contact tracing takes the form of an interview between an individual and a healthcare professional in which the patient is asked about previous interactions. Wani and Gurrapu decided this method took too long and was expensive. Considering the exponential growth rate of the coronavirus, traditional means of contact tracing would be insufficient.
“It was clear to us that we could automate this whole process using a mobile app,” Gurrapu said.
There is no longer a need for manual input. Preventiv provides you with real-time feedback.
The pair strongly advocates for social distancing, but they realized that many people are often vulnerable when the time comes to go to the grocery store or an emergency occurs. Once identifying yourself as ‘COVID Positive’ or ‘COVID Negative,’ the app anonymously shares your locations with other Preventiv users to display whether you are entering a safe location.
“When you go outside … and come in contact with an infected individual or an asymptomatic person, your phone (having downloaded Preventiv) gives you an alert so that you can take preventative measures like self-isolation,” Gurrapu said. “If you made a connection with someone in the last 14 days, and they end up becoming positive, you will also receive an alert.”
Preventiv also gives the user the option to explore a “coronavirus heat map” to identify what regions might be safe for travel and vice versa. The app provides you with information about the number of people you have come into contact with and the number of infected connections you have made. If you made a connection with someone in the last 14 days, and they ultimately become positive, you will also receive an alert sharing this information.
Currently, Preventiv is readily available to download online at www.preventiv.ml, and is not yet on the Play Store as a result of the regulations that Google has in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus misinformation. The iOS app is expected to drop within the next few weeks as well. The pair spent roughly 545 hours developing Preventiv.
“We strongly believe that there’s a lot of potential for this app. [With] the rate at which the virus is spreading, technology can help us effectively combat this virus,” Gurrapu said.
The duo also relied on faculty to perfect their project.
“We received positive support and feedback from many Virginia Tech faculty members and researchers as we refined the product,” Gurappu said.
With Gurappu and Wani’s goal to save lives globally, Wani said, “If at least one life is saved through Preventiv, then it achieved its goal.”
Even with campus closure, Tech students find ways to embody Ut Prosim: That I May Serve.