Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics PhD candidate James Petrie is among a group of volunteers who have combined their knowledge to develop Covid Watch, an app that uses Bluetooth to detect when users are in proximity to each other and alerts them anonymously if they were in contact with someone later confirmed to have COVID-19. The app uses privacy-preserving measures so that no one, including the government, can track down who exposed whom.
Petrie got involved in an online effective altruism community just before the COVID-19 pandemic. He was actively looking at what he could do that would be beneficial to the world.
“When I first saw the news in mid-January about COVID-19, I started thinking how the stuff I’m good at could be used to help solve this sort of problem,” Petrie says. “I started thinking of ways to make the contact tracing system more effective.
Learn more about the Covid Watch project.