Carmel grad helps create app that could prevent spread of COVID-19


By Raymond Mo

Carmel High School alumna Emily (Leithauser) Hart works for MotionMobs, a female-owned software development company in Birmingham, Ala., to develop an app that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A 2006 graduate of CHS, Hart attended Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and worked as a lead creative at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., before moving back to join MotionMobs. As the director of consulting and marketing at MotionMobs, Hart plans how each app will meet the needs of the target user and oversees how the app is marketed to the public.

To combat the spread of COVID-19, MotionMobs partnered with the Alabama Dept. of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to develop an app that alerts users if they might be at risk for COVID-19. Using an exposure notification API developed by Apple and Google, the app allows users’ devices to anonymously exchange keys with other devices via Bluetooth. If an app user is diagnosed with COVID-19, the app then sends an alert to all other app users who recently exchanged a key with that user.

“Developers are always intrigued by the tech spin on anything that’s going on in our world and how technology can make an impact on everyday lives,” Hart said. “As our team watched this pandemic spread around the globe and then eventually to America, we all asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ So in April, when Apple and Google first made their announcement that they were working on something, we got interested.”

Privacy is a major concern for app users, but Hart said the app ensures complete user anonymity.

“Realistically, the app is very simple. The only thing that it does is take your consent to engage with it, and then it exchanges these keys until you tell it that you or someone you’ve recently come in contact with has tested positive,” Hart said. “By design, it’s in order to keep user data private and make sure that nothing is admitted through the app without the full consent of the user.”

The app does not yet have a name, but MotionMobs plans to release the app within the next month.

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