UW News

October 12, 2020

Engineering lecture focuses on contact tracing: Monitoring COVID-19 infections while respecting privacy

Communities need a reliable method to track COVID-19 infections and slow the spread of the virus now affecting populations worldwide.

One option is contact tracing, a method for monitoring who has come in contact with whom, and, when appropriate, alerting a network of people if someone nearby has been diagnosed with the virus. Mobile phone apps offer opportunities to improve the accuracy of contact tracing but they come with privacy red flags — for example leaking a user’s location information or taking away people’s control over their own data.

Portrait of Stefano Tessaro in the Allen Center atrium

Stefano Tessaro recently helped build privacy-focused digital contact tracing technologies through a collaboration with Microsoft Research. He also contributes to the ongoing development of contact tracing apps for the state of Washington.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

This fall the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture will feature Stefano Tessaro, an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Tessaro, whose research centers on cryptography, computer security and privacy, will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of contact tracing, its widespread use, and digital contact tracing methods being developed at the UW and Microsoft Research to protect the privacy of individuals.

Tessaro’s talk will be Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 5 p.m. This lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Updated 10/27/20 – video