University of Michigan develops web app to screen people for COVID-19 symptomsSeptember 22, 2020
ANN ARBOR, MI — A web application to check symptoms of the novel coronavirus that is used across the state was built at the University of Michigan.
MI Symptoms is allowing more than 2,500 employers across Michigan meet state guidelines to screen employees before entering the workplace, according to a news release. The application was built by students, staff and alumni from the College of Engineering and the Public Health school to also help provide data for the state, industry decision-makers and the public during the pandemic.
More than 50,000 Michiganders built profiles on the MI Symptoms app, which was was released in May, according to a news release. The program also provides real-time results through the employer dashboard online.
“This update makes it easier for employers to meet the current state requirements that staff showing up for work in person must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms every day,” said Dan Maletta, director of information technology at UM Engineering who helped lead the program development. “It offers employers a live feed of data as employees report their symptoms.”
The idea is to help public health officials and employers identify new outbreaks. Results can take several days to appear after testing but the program shows when and where new symptoms arise as the information is collected, according to a news release. But it does not track any movements or provide contact tracing.
“They can identify places with a higher frequency of symptoms and reach out to businesses and organizations in that area to suggest getting tested. In this pandemic, getting ahead of the spread is one way to stop big outbreaks,” said Sharon Kardia, professor of epidemiology and associate dean for education at the UM School of Public Health.
Program developers also aim to protect users’ privacy.
“The team is very much aware that we need to put the highest priorities on safeguarding users’ and employers’ data privacy,” said Sugih Jamin, associate professor of computer science and engineering. “We have worked very hard to ensure that our systems align with the state’s guidance on data protection. Collected data is not even shared with the state’s labor and occupational safety departments.”
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