Winning Hack-from-Home team develops ‘traffic light’ app to help end Coronavirus lockdown

Health Traffic Light wins virtual hackathon to tackle the spread of COVID-19 

Birds-eye-view of 5 people's hands using laptops and tablets; Centered is a semi-translucent graphic of the globe

Health Traffic Light, a project formed by a multidisciplinary team of designers, data scientists and academics, including members of the Case Western Reserve University community, has won Hack from Home, a global virtual hackathon to find technology solutions to fight the spread of COVID-19. 

The global hackathon brought together 822 participants from 62 countries to deliver 28 projects that can be scaled into solutions to fight COVID-19. The projects were designed around three core themes: mass data mobility, citizen science and community health.

The winning project, Health Traffic Light, is an international risk identification system that has proposed a privacy-preserving technology to identify individual exposure to the virus at scale. 

By tracking self-reported symptoms and networks of citizens that may have been exposed to the virus, Health Traffic Light can track the effects of COVID-19 in a population without the possibility of governments or organizations maintaining unfettered access to their information after the crisis. This is achieved by using personal data accounts, rather than storing citizen’s data in local smartphone storage that could still be accessed after the pandemic.

The winning team is now collaborating with HAT-LAB and Dataswift to develop their idea and bring it into production.

Case Western Reserve University’s xLAB, HAT-LAB, the Cleveland Clinic’s Hwang Lab,  NHSX, and The Ethical Tech Alliance were among the world-renowned partners organizing the event, which took place remotely April 4-5. The main sponsor was Dataswift, a Cambridge-based company that enables businesses to deliver legal ownership and control of personal data to their customers through personal data accounts.

Youngjin Yoo, xLab founder and professor of design and innovation, was a member of the Health Traffic Light team along with five other CWRU community members. 

“We needed to bring  bright minds together to address the complex and rapidly evolving problems our world is facing,” Yoo said.  “I am so proud and humbled by the global response to the hackathon and our project, Health Traffic Light.”

In addition to Yoo, Case Western Reserve was widely represented in the global event. Faculty members  Amy Sheon, PhD, Executive Director, Urban Health Initiative at the School of Medicine and Dustin Tyler, PhD  the Kent H. Smith Professor II of Biomedical Engineering, at the Case School of Engineering and Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, presented their research and expertise on the hackathon’s Expert Stage. 

“The reason we brought together leaders and innovators from across the global technology community is that there is a clear opportunity for tech solutions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Irene Ng, CEO of Dataswift.

More than 25 CWRU alumni, students, emeriti faculty, and staff participated on project teams or as mentors throughout the weekend.

Another team  composed of CWRU members was Hi:5 Hand Hygiene Assistant. The idea originated from  infection preventionist Shainana Knighton, an instructor at KL2 Clinical Research School in the Frances Payne Bolton (FPB) School of Nursing. The app will help with promoting, facilitating and improving hand hygiene for a healthier connected world.

Other top projects will receive €6,000 (about $6,500) combined, provided by Just One Giant Lab. These projects include:

  • AI For Good Simulator Covid-19 Refugee Camp Solutions - An agent-based simulation of the spread of COVID-19 disease within refugee camps.
  • Scandit - A health services solution that captures ID sources and test kit information alongside other device information to store as a Healthcare Passport for live geographic analysis and forecasts.
  • Delivery Angels - An app to self-organise local delivery to those who are vulnerable or symptomatic in their local community.

“I hope that Health Traffic Light can successfully build and scale the product, to ultimately slow the spread of COVID-19 without compromising our individual rights and privacy.” Ng said. “Our goal is to achieve a positive outcome for society but in a wholesome and ethical way.”

Learn more about xLab.

Learn more about HAT-LAB. 

Learn more about Hwang Lab.

Learn more about Dataswift.