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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read