Covid-19 Spatial Contact Tracing Research at HKU

Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities Initiative, University of Hong Kong (HKU)

When future epidemic waves of COVID-19 occur, near- instantaneous contact tracing will be essential to lower the transmission growth rate. The recently released Google Apple Contact Tracing (GACT) system only traces device-to-device proximity for users of its app and neglects other crucial spatial- and temporal- aspects of disease transmission. We solve this problem with a simple idea: a Spatial Contract Tracing (SCT) system that tethers static devices (“SCT devices”) to specific spaces.

This idea improves the precision of exposure risk estimates by providing more accurate measures of environment (type of room), distance (between individuals), time (duration and contemporaneity of exposure), and location  (horizontal and vertical coordinates). In the immediate term these metrics enable rapid and comprehensive contact tracing. In the near term they provide an essential natural experiment if transmission models are to be refined and more efficient responses developed.

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