CVKey Project helps communities reopen responsibly without compromising privacy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Like everyone around the world, my family and I have been shocked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and searching for ways to help us all recover from this global crisis. For the past two months, I’ve consulted with former colleagues and leaders in the health, public policy, and tech sectors to create CVKey Project. This 501(c)(3) is on a mission to help communities reopen responsibly without compromising our personal privacy. If we don’t get reopening right, we may see successive waves of infections that force communities back to shelter-in-place. That’s why we’re building a suite of privacy-first, open-source applications to help public health officials, business owners, and community members each play our part in the fight against COVID-19.

A suite of apps for everyone

As we get back to our schools, gyms, restaurants, stores, and places of work, COVID-19 policies can be confusing and ever-changing. For example, when I get back to playing basketball again, I want to know that everyone in the gym is doing their best to stay safe based on the latest guidance from our public health officials. Today the suite of apps we’ve built includes features to help people understand what category of places are open, their COVID-19 policies, and how to responsibly gain access. Similarly, public health officials and business owners — anyone managing a space where we might congregate — want to make sure that the people entering their buildings are at low risk of transmitting COVID-19. They can use CVKey to more consistently communicate and manage COVID-19 policies. The full suite of apps will include an app for exposure notification.

How it works

Our symptom checker will let you periodically self-assess whether you might be at risk of novel coronavirus exposure and what actions to take if you are. The CVKey app then generates a unique, temporary QR code for you to access specific places that have opted-in — and to know that others have done the same. Policies are set by your local community (your city or county or campus, for example). Let’s say you want to go to the library. Based on your community’s policy for libraries and your health status, CVKey generates a QR code to show at the library. The QR code simply lets a verifier know whether you can pass or not. No one sees your health status.

Your identity and health data live only on your phone not in the cloud

We don’t want to sacrifice our health or compromise privacy in the rush to reopen. When we say privacy-first, we mean: you own and control your data with CVKey. Your identity and health data live only on your phone; they can’t be uploaded to a cloud nor shared without your informed consent. You provide your health data, not anyone else. We will not ask for location access. You can use our app for most actions without being online because everything you need is local to your device.

We deliberated deeply on the privacy architecture underpinning the app suite with input from outside experts. Here is an overview of the technical design. We’ll be publishing a more detailed technical architecture document and inviting more outside experts to provide feedback.

We understand that every day brings new information. We’ve made our tools flexible to evolve with the science and modular so public health officials can craft the solution that best fits your community’s needs.

United against COVID-19

I founded CVKey Project with Manik Gupta, Waleed Kadous, and Dr Marci Nielsen. Manik, Waleed and I have worked together on technologies that help you find your way in this world (Google Earth, Google Maps and Uber). Marci has grounded us in the science of public health and connected us with healthcare providers and local public health officials to better understand their needs. Former Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Mayor Michael Nutter and ex-Googler and Founder of GRAIL Jeff Huber have each provided invaluable insights on healthcare, government, and technology as early advisors. Our full council of experts is here.

Sweat ‘equity’ has made this project a reality. We’re a team of mostly full-time volunteers with expertise in healthcare, public policy, technology, and privacy. We’ve come together from around the world in just a few short weeks to build this non-profit endeavour. We’re united in the belief that technology paired with public health expertise can help win the fight against COVID-19. And we need more volunteers!

Join us

Please connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to find out when our apps will be available and to hear more news about how they’re being used by local communities.

I look forward to getting back to the day when we can all play basketball again. Until then, stay safe and healthy —

Brian “BAM” McClendon

P.S. Are you a state, county, business, or school official? Contact us for a product demo.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
CVKey Project

CVKey Project is on a mission to help communities responsibly reopen society during the COVID-19 pandemic without compromising privacy.