Safer Illinois and RokWall: Privacy Preserving University Health Apps for COVID-19

Vikram Sharma Mailthody et al., Safer Illinois and RokWall: Privacy Preserving University Health Apps for COVID-19. March 2021. (Preprint)

Abstract: COVID-19 has fundamentally disrupted the way we live. Government bodies, universities, and companies worldwide are rapidly developing technologies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopen society. Essential analytics tools such as contact tracing, super-spreader event detection, and exposure mapping require collecting and analyzing sensitive user information. The increasing use of such powerful data-driven applications necessitates a secure, privacy-preserving infrastructure for computation on personal data.

In this paper, we analyze two such computing infrastructures under development at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. First, we present Safer Illinois, a system for decentralized health analytics supporting two applications currently deployed with widespread adoption: digital contact tracing and COVID-19 status cards. Second, we introduce the RokWall architecture for privacy-preserving centralized data analytics on sensitive user data. We discuss the architecture of these systems, design choices, threat models considered, and the challenges we experienced in developing production-ready systems for sensitive data analysis.

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