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University of Kansas to partner with nonprofit CVKey Project to pilot new app developed to assist communities with reopening responsibly

Thu, 06/04/2020

LAWRENCE — As the University of Kansas begins to reopen parts of campus, it will participate in a pilot project to test a health verification mobile app called CVKey. The app was created by CVKey Project, a nonprofit initiative co-founded by former Google vice president Brian McClendon, a KU alumnus. KU will be the first community to test the CVKey app. 

CVKey Project’s suite of privacy-first community health apps helps local counties, universities and other organizations responsibly reopen society. Participants will have the option to use the CVKey app to conduct a self-assessment of their COVID-19 health status at home and then generate a QR code to verify their access to campus buildings — and to know that others have done the same. By using the app, individuals will not have to disclose detailed personal health information to building monitors. The QR code displayed by the app provides the building monitor with a simple yes or no indication of whether the person’s health assessment meets the criteria to enter the building that day. 

The self-assessment and related health information is strictly confined to the individual’s mobile device and is not shared outside the user’s mobile device. This technical design overview gives the overall technical design, and this privacy application specification details the privacy architecture that underpins the app suite that CVKey Project developed with input from outside experts. 

KU administrators will also be able to use CVKey to more consistently communicate and manage COVID-19 protocols and update them as conditions evolve. 

“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a top global priority, and we don't want to risk our community's health or compromise privacy during the process of reopening,” said Brian McClendon, co-founder of CVKey Project. "In developing this privacy-first technology, we’re fortunate to have KU as a partner. The feedback from KU will be invaluable in helping us scale this solution for local communities around the world."

McClendon is a research professor in KU’s School of Engineering. As vice president at Google he led the teams that built Google Earth, Google Maps, Local Search, Streetview and other tools used by billions of people worldwide. As co-founder of CVKey project, he has pulled together a team of experts in public health, technology and privacy to help communities around the world reopen responsibly.

During the pilot, the app will only be available to those faculty, staff and students approved to work in the designated campus buildings. For any KU member who does not want to use the CVKey app, a paper-based solution will be made available.

“As we look to reopen parts of our campus, we will look for opportunities to minimize risk by providing members of our campus community with a quick and easy method of assessing their health status based on the most up-to-date public health guidelines,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “This mobile app is one tool for doing that, and we’re grateful to Brian and his outstanding team for their assistance.”

The CVKey Project Council of Experts includes Kathleen Sebelius, a former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Kansas governor; Allen Greiner, professor and vice chair of family medicine at KU Medical Center and the Medical Officer for the Kansas City, Kansas, Wyandotte County Unified Government Health Department; and Perry Alexander, KU AT&T Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the KU Information and Telecommunication Technology Center.

“We need creative solutions that balance public health needs with the priority to reopen society during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sebelius said. “I applaud the efforts of KU and CVKey Project to develop a tool that complements other measures — such as testing, contact tracing and social distancing — that organizations can use in their fight against COVID-19.” 

“As a KU alum, I’m proud of the fact that KU is not only helping its own community but leading the way for others to follow,” McClendon said.

For more information about CVKey Project, contact Serena Satyasai, press@cvkeyproject.org, 415-606-2631.

CVKEY APP SCREENSHOTS can be downloaded from a press kit available here.

ABOUT CVKEY PROJECT

A 501(c)(3) initiative, CVKey Project is on a mission to help communities responsibly reopen society. By pairing public health experts with the best technologists, we’re building solutions to help us get back to work, go to school and better live with the problems caused by COVID-19. We all want to feel confident going outside again. Without compromising privacy. This is our goal.



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