There are a number of different technologies both proposed and in development to help smooth the reopening of parts of the economy despite the threat of COVID-19 continuing pandemics. One such tech solution launch today is from Brian McClendon, co-founder of Keyhole, the company Google purchased in 2004 to form the basis of Google Earth and Google Maps. McClendon’s new CVKey Project is a registered nonprofit that launches an app for symptom self-assessment that generates a temporary QR code, which will work with participating community facilities as a form of health “pass”; opt-in basis.
Ultimately, CVKey Project hopes to launch a full suite of dedicated apps to make public spaces more accessible and secure. Apple and Google have recently launched an exposure notification API that will allow CVKey to include notifications in its apps. CVKey also plans to provide information on facilities open under current government guidelines and their policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.
The key element of the CVKey Project’s approach, however, is the use of a QR code generated by its app that essentially acts as a validation that you are “safe” to enter one of these shared spaces. The system is designed with the user’s privacy in mind, according to McClendon. Any identity or health data exists only on a user’s individual device – no date has been uploaded to a cloud server or shared without the user’s permission. Information about what’s included in the sharing is also provided. Users voluntarily offer their health information, and the app does not request location information. Most of what it does can be done without an internet connection at all, McClendon explains.
When you generate and scan a QR code at a participating location, a simple binary display (based on location policies) indicates whether you have cleared the pass. The location will not be able to find any details about your health information. The code only sends the details of the displayed symptoms (which are here and how recently, for example), and is then matched with the public space policy. The app provides after a “go” / “no-go” response.
McClendon created the CVKey Project with the former Google Earth, Google Maps and Uber co-workers Manik Gupt and Waleed Kadous, as well as Dr. Marci Nielsen, a public health specialist with a long history of public and private institutions.
The apps created by the CVKey Project will be available soon, and the nonprofit is looking for potential partners to participate in its program. As with everything else designed to address the COVID-19 crisis, this is not a simple fix, but it can be part of a larger strategy that provides a path for dealing with pandemics.