1. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The cause of this illness is a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Learn more about COVID-19 here.

  1. What is COVID Nearby?

It is a crowdsensing platform to identify and track the spread of COVID-19 in your community. We need these insights to fight this pandemic. 

COVID Nearby relies on your participation. When you report your health symptoms and other data, e.g., location, sex and age, it securely and privately aggregates this data and generates insights about the spread of the virus. These insights are made available to you and the health professionals.

  1. Why should I use COVID Nearby?

You’ll participate in the communal effort to fight this pandemic by generating the data that can identify new and emerging outbreaks of COVID-19. Due to a lack of widespread testing, this data is of vital importance.

COVID Nearby protects your data with encryption and your privacy with differential privacy, a mathematical guarantee for your privacy that can’t be violated by any attack.

  1. Who built COVID Nearby?

COVID Nearby was built by the Rutgers Institute of Data Science, Learning, and Applications with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Health (NIH).

The team includes scientists from the Rutgers School of Public Health, Rutgers Business School, and the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. The team’s expertises are in epidemiology, behavioral analysis, and data privacy.

  1. How does COVID Nearby protect my data/privacy?

To protect your data, COVID Nearby uses encryption and differential privacy.

It doesn’t require a log-in or your personal information such as name, phone number, or email.

Encryption secures your data against any unauthorized access, i.e., no attacker can see your data.

COVID Nearby only releases privacy-protected aggregate information. Privacy protection is achieved by processing the aggregate information through differentially private algorithms — this gives a strong mathematical privacy guarantee. Simply put, it ensures that anyone who sees these aggregates cannot find out what data you provided. Here you can find more details.

  1. Who can use COVID Nearby?

Anyone who is 18 or older can use COVID Nearby.

  1. How often should I update my information (check-in) on COVID Nearby?

Everyday. Because the spread of the virus changes by the day. The more often the people report, the better. 

  1. I don’t have any symptoms. Should I still report?

Yes. The reports from healthy people are also important. Because the aim is to know in an aggregate sense how people are feeling in your community.

  1. I see an increased number of symptoms and confirmed COVID-19 cases in my area. What should I do?

You can take several steps to protect yourself and your family and slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community. Learn about prevention steps here.