Contact tracing and social distancing apps can ease your worried mind (a little)


These apps remind you to keep your distance from others and help you retrace your steps if you contract the coronavirus.

As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, social distancing and contact tracing are more important than ever. Keeping six feet or about one and a half meters between you and the next person in line at the grocery is one easy measure of protection. It’s human nature to draw close to one another during a conversation or even while waiting in line. Crowdless and 1point5 are two apps that will let you know when you get too close to anyone outside your quarantine pod.

For extra peace of mind, you also can download a contact tracing app to your phone. Most of these apps are built in partnership with local or state health agencies, so look for one in your locale. These apps use various methods of tracking your movements. This allows you to retrace your steps if you contract the virus and let other people know if you came in contact with them.



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Image: Crowdless

This app helps users avoid crowded places by using existing, anonymized data sources to track the movements of mobile devices. It combines this information with crowd-sourced data by asking the user to confirm whether or not a location is busy. The app doesn’t store any data or location history. It also complies with GDPR. Crowdless also recruits volunteer community ambassadors to ensure local stores have up-to-date information and to test early versions of new features. 


Google Play and App Store



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Image: 1point5

The United Nations Technology Innovation Labs built this app to scan nearby mobile devices and warn the app user when a device enters a perimeter of 1.5 meters. The device vibrates to alert using Bluetooth RSSI signal if someone breaches this boundary. The app does not collect personal information. It uses Bluetooth signals to detect the proximity of other users.


Google Play



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Image: Trace Together

Singapore’s Government Technology Agency built this app early on in the pandemic to make contact tracing easy. App users get notified quickly if they have come into contact with people who have contracted the virus. The app uses the BlueTrace protocol to collect and log proximity data between devices that are both using the app. The Bluetooth information stored on phones using the app is automatically deleted after 25 days.


Google Play and App Store



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Image: Healthy Together Utah

This app from the state of Utah includes a symptom checker, a list of test sites, and advice for what to do after being tested. Users own their data and can delete it at any time. Location data is deleted automatically after 30 days. Users have the option to share data with the state health department to make contact tracing easier.


Google Play and App Store



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Image: State of Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island built this app to help users track their daily activities and symptoms. The My Location Diary feature uses GPS location data from the phone to track the places a user visited over the past 20 days. All data is stored locally and only shared voluntarily. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, and agrees to share this information with the Rhode Island Department of Health, officials can easily identify places visited and people contacted.

The My Symptom Diary feature is designed to spot potential outbreaks of the virus. Users can share symptoms and provide their ZIP code.


Google Play and App Store



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