As students return to campus, the Protect Purdue Health Center plans to roll out a new app that will analyze student health and safety on campus.
The new software is called PassProof, and is developed by Base Camp Health, a Tennessee-based company. PPHC wrote in an email to students the software would help students “assess (their) well-being and ability to move about the campus.”
“The app was used for students in isolation/quarantine in the fall,” PPHC spokesperson Tim Doty said in an email. “It helped the PPHC team monitor how the students were doing health wise.”
Doty said that more information will follow during the first week of classes, as students are emailed with instructions for downloading and enrolling in the app.
Hunter Helms, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said he had used PassProof while in isolation at Purdue Village.
“I did use the PassProof program,” Helms wrote in an email, “although I didn’t for very long. They don’t really check to see if you have filled it out. So I only did it a few times. It is super simple to do and doesn’t take too long to finish.”
Other than PassProof and regular emails with a case manager, Helms said that there were no other forms of digital monitoring that PPHC implemented while he was in quarantine.
Other universities have also adopted technology-based measures to strengthen their COVID-19 protocols. Milligan University in Tennessee uses Ascend, a web-based platform designed by Base Camp Health, the same company behind PassProof.
Milligan Returns Home, Milligan University’s COVID-19 initiative, is analogous to Protect Purdue.
“Ascend ... provides a technological solution to the challenge of self-screening as a foundational strategy of return-to-campus initiatives,” the university’s website reads. “It ... gives our response team the real-time information they need to assess the risk of virus spread through our campus community and take proactive steps to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
The Ascend program consists of a daily screening: “a 15-second survey, answering questions about ... symptoms and any known exposure to COVID-19. The software (combines) that information with contextual data and other risk factors to tell each student or employee whether to report to campus/class/work that day or not.”
With regard to the question of privacy, PassProof and Ascend analyze health data provided by thousands of students.
Base Camp Health writes on its website that “Ascend provides the ability to make detailed decisions based on health data without campus health teams ever having to violate data privacy.”
The Milligan Returns Home website states that Base Camp Health’s data handling will comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
“Data is visible only to the user and authorized medical personnel,” the website says. “The platform itself makes use of the most current data protection measures available, from data encryption to secure site protocols for the physical locations of our servers to protect data from bad actors.”
The Exponent reached out to Base Camp Health for information about PassProof and was informed that questions could be answered only after the software had been rolled out on campus.