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

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

North Saanich has started the design of a crosswalk at the intersection of Mills and Littlewood roads near Garden Child Care Centre, whose owner Tracey McCullough has been calling for such a sidewalk. As such, she has been echoing a previous appeal by the building’s owner, Heather and Cory Hastings, standing respectively with seven-year-old Jack Hastings and five-year-old Felix Hastings. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich moves ahead with crosswalk near child care centre

Crosswalk proposed for Littlewood and Mills roads parts of approved active transportation plan

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read