Villanova professor says blockchain technology may be useful in contact tracing

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  A Villanova University engineering and computer science professor believes a specialized, secure database technology can play a critical role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Hasshi Sudler, who teaches in Villanova’s electrical and computer engineering department, said he believes blockchain technology would be a useful tool in contact tracing — a process of identifying people who might have come into contact with a person infected with Covid 19, telling them they might have been exposed, and suggesting a course of action ranging from testing to self-quarantining.

Sudler said using blockchain technology involves setting up a secure computer database in which all the parties agree to share the names of those with whom they are coming into contact.

The private network would offer anonymity to users, especially those who report they are infected with the virus.

“Your identity is held private, there is no transferring of names or any personal identifiable information,” Sudler said. “It sends a message to the network and that network can automatically identify the individuals that person came into contact with over the last two or three weeks, automatically send them an alert saying you may have been exposed.”

Sudler said researchers are looking at the application for both private and public sector use.