UAB’s GuideSafe Tech Expanded Across State Lines

Every Alabamian using the University of Alabama at Birmingham-developed GuideSafe app for COVID-19 exposure will receive an extra layer of protection beginning today when the app is connected to the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ National Key Server.

By connecting to the server, the app will be able to download codes or “keys” from all other states with an exposure notification app on the National Key Server, thus expanding exposure notifications across state lines.

“Many states rolled out their own exposure notification app with keys on multiple, unlinked servers by state agencies, which made it difficult to send exposures for interactions between individuals using apps from different states,” said Sue Feldman, professor in UAB’s Schools of Health Professions and Medicine. “This interoperability gap was solved by the APHL’s creation of a National Key Server. It will allow more streamlined interoperability of exposure notifications between the Alabama Department of Public Health and other state agencies, creating a tremendous benefit to GuideSafe app adopters.”

States with an exposure notification app currently on the National Key Server are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

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UAB also announced today that it has partnered with the PathCheck Foundation, founded at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to include UAB’s anonymous and encrypted COVID-19 exposure verification technology created for GuideSafe in PathCheck’s exposure notification app.

PathCheck’s platform has been adopted for official apps in five states and U.S. territories, and three nations. PathCheck will work with jurisdictions to provide UAB’s verification code innovation.

“Several states have expressed interest in using the verification technology we developed as part of our GuideSafe multitool platform through the PathCheck platform, and we are delighted to be able to provide this exposure verification technology to help make it easier for other states to resolve problems we have already solved,” said Feldman.

GuideSafe was launched in Alabama in mid-August. To date, more than 140,000 Alabamians have downloaded the app with a total of 326 positive COVID-19 notifications generated statewide.

The intellectual property for these innovations is being offered by UAB non-exclusively to other states, with more anticipated to be joining soon.

“By allowing other states to use the verification technology, if Alabamians who utilize the GuideSafe app are exposed to people from other states who are also using the PathCheck app, that exposure notification would work in those cases and both parties would be notified,” said Brian Rivers, associate vice president and chief technology officer at UAB.

Supported by CARES Act funding, the GuideSafe Exposure Notification App was built by UAB with support from Birmingham-based MotionMobs in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Public Health and integrating Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System. The technology protects personal privacy and data while anonymously alerting a user of possible exposure to someone who later tests positive for COVID-19. GuideSafe app notifications can arm users with information needed to quarantine or seek testing and treatment, all while guarding user privacy.

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