No Tech? No Problem! Try WTCC’s Low-Tech Contact Tracing

The Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition (WTCC) is committed to finding the most effective and timely ways of combating COVID-19, even those that are extremely low tech.

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, the WTCC is offering a technology-free yet effective method of contact tracing — pencil and paper.

While staying at home whenever possible and social distancing remain the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Wyoming is slowly reopening, so it’s imperative we find ways to be safe while in public. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, one of the most effective ways to achieve this is contact tracing.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying and then alerting anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed or likely COVID-19 infection. It’s especially crucial to identify asymptomatic carriers who couldn’t otherwise know that they need to self-quarantine.

However, most contact tracing methods currently being proposed, including an app co-designed by Apple and Google, come with challenges. First, they require using a smartphone and having broadband access, neither of which are available to everyone, especially in rural areas of states like Wyoming. Additionally, monitoring and tracking private citizens to this degree is complicated by privacy concerns. The WTCC is proposing a method that can be just as effective without either of those hurdles.

“We’re calling it Contact Tracing at Home. You’re taking your health into your own hands with this secure, easy way to stay informed. It’s helping your future self, as well as your friends and family,” WTCC volunteer and freelance designer Anna Kasprowicz said.

Contact Tracing at Home is a daily log of everyone you’ve been around. Although simple, this method will make it easy for people who learn they have been infected with Coronavirus to retrace their steps afterwards to inform their physicians who they have been in contact with, and allow them to be alerted about the risk.

People can use a log that Kasprowicz designed, available for free at https://wtcc.tech/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/contact_tracing_template.pdf or an ordinary notebook with three columns: Who, When and Where, to record at the end of each day everyone they were within six feet of, for more than ten minutes, which adheres to Wyoming Department of Health recommendations.

WTCC has begun promoting this campaign on social media, using the images above (available at  https://wtcc.tech/projects/contact-tracing-at-home/ )  and the hashtag #WyomingTracks. Other organizations and individuals are urged to help promote this campaign by social media and other means.

The more we all track, the fewer people we will have to alert and the more quickly we will stop the spread.

“There’s all sorts of challenges with technology-driven contact tracing, but it’s really useful in slowing the spread,” Kasprowicz said. “The WTCC is all about being proactive and doing things fast. Maybe technology will be the answer to contact tracing eventually, but right now, this log is easy and fast, and it works around all of the challenges.”