Digital tools for contact tracing

Project Overview

At this stage (May 2020) of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic, rapid contact tracing and notification of those exposed to infected persons is critically important to stopping further spread of the disease. Several digital tools have now been developed—some by established information technology (IT) companies, others by small, entrepreneurial organizations—to support various parts of the contact tracing process. Unfortunately, to date there has been no national-level opportunity for local and state health officials to collaboratively assess these tools, and consider whether and how they might best support contact tracing.

To provide a platform for this critically-needed deliberation, PHII is now convening and managing a forum to help inform and coordinate the use and further development of digital tools in support of contact tracing. Given the urgency of the need for guidance, this project will be carried out in a short, four-week period.

Aim Statement

To develop and provide guidance to state and local public health officials to assist their understanding of the marketplace of digital tools in support of contact tracing, and to provide guidance to industry partners (i.e., technology companies) to ensure technology meets the functional and privacy needs and standards required by state and local public health officials for contact tracing.

Project Deliverables

Steps for Public Health to Plan for the Use of the Apple|Google Exposure Notification Framework: A White Paper
Provides background about Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework (A|G ENF) to support public health in deciding whether to build and deploy a statewide app for users to receive exposure alerts for enhanced COVID-19 contact tracing.

Digital Tools for Contact Tracing Tool Assessment Report
Provides guidance to public health authorities that helps them understand the landscape of available digital contact tracing tools and a set of prioritized requirements to evaluate these tools and aid in decision-support for selecting the appropriate tool.

  • For vendors interested in having their products considered for future iterations of this report, please submit an inquiry to and complete this questionnaire.
  • For public health agencies implementing a digital contact tracing application or technology and interested in sharing information about the product and their experience with other public health agencies; please complete this questionnaire.

Project Updates

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Members of the Apple | Google Exposure Notification Framework workgroup reconvened to consent on revisions to the white paper and additional topics for future iterations

Minutes | Materials

Members of the Digital Tools for Contact Tracing Assessment report workgroup reconvened to review seven major changes made to the report and discuss alignment with similar initiatives like ASTHO’s development of the COVID-19 Technology & Digital Solutions Master Data Sheet.

Minutes | Materials

Members of the Digital Tools for Contact Tracing Assessment Report workgroup met for their first meeting to review their workgroup charge, gain consensus on the purpose of the report, and identify key questions and major edits that needed to be made.

Minutes | Materials

Members of the Apple | Google Exposure Notification Framework workgroup met for this first meeting to discuss the workgroup’s charge and deliverables and to identify key questions that implementation studies should answer. Workgroup members also outlined potential guidelines that can help public health officials plan for integrating Apple and Google’s technology. 


The design team met to discuss (1) outcomes and next steps from the previous public health stakeholder meeting on May 27, (2) plans for forming and convening workgroups focused on Apple and Google’s API and digital contact tracing tools currently available, and (3) engagement opportunities for the next convening of the larger stakeholder group.

Minutes | Materials

A broad public health forum joined on May 27, 2020 to discuss three primary topics: (1) a preliminary national approach by the CDC to pilot, evaluate and develop guidance for Apple | Google’s exposure notification API, (2) relative perspectives regarding how the exposure notification tool can support public health agencies, and (3) a presentation from technical experts at Apple | Google on their exposure notification API and accompanying plans to support public health adoption. 

Minutes | Materials

The design team convened on May 15, 2020 to gain consensus on terminology and answer key questions that would help shape the approach for future convenings. The group also reviewed a preliminary environmental scan of digital tools currently available and discussed next steps for a meeting with a broader group of public health experts.

Minutes | Materials

A design team was formed to set the scope, objectives and boundaries of COVID-19 contact tracing engagement and discuss the broader development of this effort. Its first meeting was held May 9, 2020 where participants defined the aim statement, the problems that needed to be solved and metrics for success.

Minutes | Materials

Important Details

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  • Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundations (CDCF)
  • Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
  • National Governors Association (NGA)
  • Technical Industry Partners 

TBD: Key public health stakeholders are dividing into two workgroups to (1) discuss details on potential pilot implementations of Apple and Google’s API and how it can best inform public health guidance, and (2) to advise the development of an assessment that outlines digital contact tracing tools currently available. Dates for these workgroup meetings are tentatively set for the week of June 22.

Bluetooth® Digitally Assisted Proximity Exposure Notification: SBAR (University of Washington)
Notes from calls between Apple, Google, Microsoft and the University of Washington that highlights background information on Apple and Google’s technology, including an assessment of considerations and suggested recommendations.

Common Ground: Public Health Preparedness Toolkit (Public Health Informatics Institute)
Designed to assist chronic disease and preparedness departments in public health agencies by documenting and defining business processes
common to each of them and identifying the requirements for information systems that would support these processes.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Training Guidance and Resources (CDC)
Sample training plan including training topics that may be helpful for state and local public health jurisdictions to consider when designing their own training plan for COVID-19 contact tracers.

Preliminary Criteria for the Evaluation of Digital Contact Tracing Tools for COVID-19 (CDC)
Minimum and preferred characteristics of digital contact tracing tools to help local and state health departments overcome one or more obstacles in the COVID-19 contact tracing workflow.

Redesigning Public Health Surveillance in an eHealth World (Public Health Informatics Institute)
Roadmap and a tool for moving public health toward acquiring information systems that will support its work effectively and efficiently by leveraging standards‐based information flows from electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) and electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Resolve to Save Lives: Contact Tracing Sprint Presentation (Resolve to Save Lives)
Description of MVP (minimum viable product) digital solution for increasing efficiency and efficacy of contact tracing.