Project

Safe Paths

Safe Paths Team

Context.  Fast containment is key to halting an epidemic outbreak. But with the long incubation period of a virus like COVID-19, it is extremely difficult to identify individuals who may have been in contact with carriers of the virus and are thus at risk of contagion. Across the globe, the use of smartphones has been tested to track location and solve this problem, raising concerns about mass surveillance.  However, with our privacy-first method, the user remains in control of their data—providing a fundamentally different approach to app-based epidemic analytics.

Private Kit: Safe Paths is an MIT-led, free, open source technology that enables jurisdictions and individuals to maximize privacy, while also maximizing the effectiveness of contact tracing in the case of a positive diagnosis. Through integration with the web app Safe Places, Private Kit: Safe Paths discloses when and where infected patients were in proximity to others, all while maintaining the privacy of both the patient and the user. 

For upcoming version releases, Private Kit: Safe Paths will deploy the following capabilities: 

Context.  Fast containment is key to halting an epidemic outbreak. But with the long incubation period of a virus like COVID-19, it is extremely difficult to identify individuals who may have been in contact with carriers of the virus and are thus at risk of contagion. Across the globe, the use of smartphones has been tested to track location and solve this problem, raising concerns about mass surveillance.  However, with our privacy-first method, the user remains in control of their data—providing a fundamentally different approach to app-based epidemic analytics.

Private Kit: Safe Paths is an MIT-led, free, open source technology that enables jurisdictions and individuals to maximize privacy, while also maximizing the effectiveness of contact tracing in the case of a positive diagnosis. Through integration with the web app Safe Places, Private Kit: Safe Paths discloses when and where infected patients were in proximity to others, all while maintaining the privacy of both the patient and the user. 

For upcoming version releases, Private Kit: Safe Paths will deploy the following capabilities: 

  • V1 - Log location history
  • V2 - Match personal location history with infected patient anonymous redacted trace files provided by public health officials
  • V3 - Match personal  location history with encrypted anonymous redacted infected patient trace files provided by city officials

As noted, Private Kit: Safe Paths works in conjunction with the MIT-developed GIS web app, Safe Places

Safe Places is used by public health officials to:

  1. Collect time-stamped location data from one of the three sources, Private Kit: Safe Paths, Google location history, and patient interviews
  2. Produce partially obscured trace files that meet jurisdiction legal requirements for anonymity that can be posted openly on the web and utilized for contact tracing in Private Kit: Safe Paths

By enabling contact tracing, Private Kit: Safe Paths will help to reduce panic and "flatten the curve" of Coronavirus spread by enabling those who have been exposed and are showing symptoms to make more informed decisions on when to seek testing and self-quarantine—without losing individual privacy and while reducing the fear unknown exposure.