An NDSU alumnus is an important player in North Dakota’s fight against COVID-19.
Tim Brookins, BS ’87, MS ’90, electric and electronic engineering, is the founder of ProudCrowd LLC, a software company that has developed the state’s new Care19 Alert app. The smartphone app designed to notify users of possible COVID-19 exposure while protecting their privacy. It uses exposure notification tech developed by Apple and Google.
“I hope that Care19 Alert can play a part in helping us return to a more normal existence, in a responsible way,” said Brookins, who also is a principal software engineer for Microsoft Corp. “Covid-19 has upended our way of life in many ways, with few easy solutions. Solutions like social distancing and business closures help save lives, but tradeoff our traditional our way of life. I’m happy to work on Care19 Alert because it’s one of the few approaches that can help slow the spread of COVID-19 with little to no impact on our personal freedoms.”
The company partnered with the North Dakota Department of Health to create the app, which is free and can be downloaded through the App Store and the Google Play Store. The project was funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Care19 Alert users will be notified if their device was in proximity of another device whose user tests positive for COVID-19. The app updates daily with positive results submitted by other users, which are then checked against the list of random keys that each device has encountered for more than 15 minutes in the past 14 days.
According to Brookins, the app is simple to use.
“Load the app on your phone and forget about it. Go about your life and the app can let you know if you were around someone who tests positive for COVID-19,” he said. “The notification to you is anonymous and the actions you take based on that notification are entirely up to you.”
Care19 Alert is the first exposure notification app to connect with the National Key Server provided by the Association of Public Health Laboratories. That feature allows different states’ apps to communicate with each other, protecting North Dakotans when they are traveling across state borders or when visitors to North Dakota subsequently become COVID-19 positive.