public health

A photo of Verily's headquarters in South San Francisco.
By Dave Muoio 02:08 pm October 27, 2020
Yesterday, Kaiser Health News reported that California's San Francisco and Alameda counties had "severed ties" with a highly publicized "Project Baseline" COVID-19 testing program supported by Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences. In particular, the reporting focused on Verily-backed community testing sites located in Oakland that have been closed for months, one of which is now working to reopen with...
Bluetooth logo
By Dave Muoio 02:43 pm October 8, 2020
A new proof-of-concept machine learning system outlined in npj digital medicine could provide Bluetooth-based contact tracing tools with the means to quantify the risk of coronavirus transmission when device owners are in close proximity. The approach, researchers from the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin write, measures whether the received signal strength of a second party's...
By Dave Muoio 02:59 pm September 24, 2020
Google Maps will be receiving an update this week that shows users the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in an area, the tech company announced yesterday in a blog post. Through an option selected within the application, Maps will display a color-coded overlay communicating seven-day averages of new cases per 100,000 in that area, as well as a general indication of whether or not local incidence is...
By Dave Muoio 04:34 pm September 18, 2020
COVID-19 may not be the first pandemic the world has faced, but the virus' challenge comes amidst widespread skepticism of longstanding public health institutions. Government-led responses to outbreaks have varied from country to country, and incongruent messaging between political leaders, health agencies and other sources of information have fueled varying levels of concern and distrust among...
By Dave Muoio 01:47 pm September 4, 2020
By pulling anonymized, publicly available location data from mobile devices, researchers have found that the U.S. population generally complied with stay-at-home orders issued by state officials this spring. The analysis, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), is the latest to use personal devices and the data they generate to describe behaviors relevant to public...
By Dave Muoio 04:38 pm July 31, 2020
Google has posted an update on Exposure Notifications – their system-level framework for COVID-19 contact tracing developed in tandem with Apple – revealing that the tools have been incorporated into digital contact-tracing apps launched in 16 countries. Further, 20 U.S. states and territories are "exploring apps" based on the system, according to Google, the first set of which are expected to go...
By Dave Muoio 03:48 pm May 20, 2020
Roughly a month after first announcing their unprecedented collaboration, Apple and Google have updated their devices' operating systems today with the first component of their contact tracing API. Referred to by the companies as "Exposure Notifications," the technology aims to help public health agencies deploy apps that tell individuals when they may have been exposed to another person with...
By Dave Muoio 02:19 pm April 10, 2020
Two of the biggest names in technology have formed an unprecedented partnership to introduce health data-sharing and COVID-19 contact-tracing technologies to the lion's share of the smartphone market. In dual news releases published this afternoon, Apple and Google announced plans to launch APIs that will enable interoperability between iOS and Android products by way of official apps from public...

Photo credit: Christine Daniloff, MIT

By Dave Muoio 03:13 pm April 9, 2020
A research effort based out of MIT is looking to individuals' smartphones as tools for automatic COVID-19 contact tracing, but it's taking a unique approach that doesn't log GPS data or other potentially identifying information. Rather, the multi-organization Private Automatic Contact Tracing (PACT) team is turning to smartphones' Bluetooth functionality – or more specifically, the short-range...