The state of Connecticut is teaming up with a group of developers to help gather data that will help scientists track and understand the spread of the coronavirus.
The How We Feel app is designed to allow users to anonymously self-report any symptoms they may be experiencing. The independent non-profit developed the app with health experts at institutions including Harvard University, MIT, UPenn and the Weizmann Institute of Science. The data collected will be used to help pinpoint potential hotspots and provide insight on the spread of the virus.
The app prompts users to self-report symptoms by asking a series of questions about how they're feeling. The data is shared with scientists and health officials, including the state Department of Public Health, in real-time for analysis. It can be used to help spot outbreaks earlier and gauge how well social distancing is working in communities.
Officials hope the information collected can help fill the void created by testing shortages.
In a press briefing Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont stressed that users do not need to share any personal details and that the data is compiled by zip code. It is available to download on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or as a web version at howwefeel.app.
Lamont noted that the partnership came at no cost to the state.
“We’re all looking for something we can do to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this app provides an opportunity for everyone – regardless of whether you are currently sick or if you are in healthy condition – to share how you’re feeling to leading health professionals, so they can track the spread of this virus and quickly determine where a new outbreak may be occurring,” Governor Lamont said. “Likewise, as people report healthier symptoms, the data could reveal which health measures are having the fastest impact and apply those learnings in other areas. It’s quick and easy to use, and completely anonymous. By encouraging everyone to use How We Feel, we all benefit," Lamont wrote in a statement.
The app was developed by MIT professor Feng Zhang.
He said Monday that about 3,500 people in Connecticut are using the app. Nationally, the app has about 300,000 users.
He estimated that they could start collecting meaningful data for the state of Connecticut with around 10,000 users, though they are shooting for closer to 50,000.