SARATOGA SPRINGS (WRGB) - Governor Cuomo said one of the important tools to be able to reopen, is contact tracing -- finding who could have come in contact with someone who tested positive, so they can quarantine. He's working to build an army of contact tracers.
Aarathi Prasad, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science from Skidmore College has researched contact tracing for years before the pandemic. Now she's working to research and develop technology that could help.
"Wireless technologies can be really useful to figure out if two people were in the same location at the same time." Prasad said. "For example, if you're at the library together, and assuming you both have smartphones that are running the same app, then it's easy for the two apps could figure out that you were close to each other."
MORE: Contact tracing 'army' being put together in NY by Bloomberg, Johns Hopkins
She said apps are in the works and she's helping with open sourcing for one called COVID Safe Paths App. But she says with that, comes a lot of privacy concerns that she's finding a way to fix. For one, people may not want their every location documented. And how long would you need to store locations?
"Maybe you could assign a number to the public library? Or draw a grid around the site of the public library so if two apps are in the grid at the same time then that's a match." Prasad said of brainstorming different options to minimize security issues.
She said it's also important for everyone to use the same app, and public health departments need to be involved because they're doing the testing, and they're a trustworthy source.
MORE: 'Unprecedented:' Seeking an army to trace virus in New York
"This technology is not going to be effective if the people in that library didn't have the same app." Prasad said. "And I think it's important to be transparent, so we can build trust, and we need that trust so people will adopt it."
Prasad when the academic year is over, she plans to spend her time working on researching this technology and privacy preserving protocols.
ALSO: Protesters descend on Albany Capitol demanding the state re-open
Governor Cuomo also announced a contact tracing pilot program with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It'll be a coordination across the tri-state area, and will focus on areas with the highest rate of infection. They are training people, and should have it operational within the next few weeks. They expect it to run through next flu season.