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COVID-19 update: Announcing our contact tracing application

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Jeremy Haefner

News  •

Dear DU Community Members,

After considerable thought and care, the University of Denver has selected Everbridge, a digital application for smartphones, to support our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. With Everbridge, DU will conduct quicker and more effective symptom monitoring and contact tracing to identify and contact community members potentially exposed to someone confirmed positive for COVID-19. We will share a link to download Everbridge by September 10.

DU will not require students, faculty and staff to use Everbridge, nor will they be required to use all of the features, but we want to share with you the benefits of using the app and address concerns that you may have. To realize the full benefits of Everbridge, more than 60 percent of the DU community who plan to be on campus need to participate in using the app.

To provide the best possible educational experience for our students, our goal is to remain on campus, together, through the fall term and beyond. The quick and thorough symptom monitoring and contact tracing we can achieve through Everbridge will go a long way toward helping us meet that goal.

Your Data & Privacy 

Privacy, security, and data safety are central in our planning to combat the spread of COVID-19 at DU. We selected Everbridge because of its data security and privacy features, including earning six third-party security certifications. Symptoms, positive tests, and location and proximity tracing are the three data sets DU will use to monitor infections, conduct contact tracing, and communicate with community members who may need to isolate or quarantine. More information on Everbridge and FAQs on data security can be found on the contact tracing page of our coronavirus website, but I’d like to highlight a few key points:

  • We have created a working group comprised of students, faculty, and staff to focus on issues of privacy and address our use of data.
  • DU and Everbridge will store and protect all health information, including the identities of DU community members who have tested positive for COVID-19, in accordance with applicable privacy laws and University privacy policies. During contact tracing, individual identities are not shared with those who may have been exposed.
  • The data related to contact tracing will be stored in secure servers hosted by Everbridge.

Contact Tracing 

DU will employ two methods of contact tracing: manual contact and location tracing completed by trained staff members and digital tracing done through the Everbridge app. The most significant benefit of wide community usage of Everbridge’s GPS- and Bluetooth-enabled tracing is that our efforts will not rely upon the memories of those who test positive. Details on how this process will work can be found on the contact tracing page of our coronavirus website, but here are a few key points:

  • Within Everbridge, you can opt in and out of the GPS- and Bluetooth-enabled location and proximity tracking as often as you like.
  • DU will only use location data gathered in a geofence perimeter within ¾ of a mile around DU. Individuals will receive a notification when entering or leaving this boundary. The user will control when their location is tracked.
  • Proximity tracing information is stored on the user’s phone. Users will be notified when someone they have been in the proximity of reports symptoms or receives a positive test result.
  • All manual contact tracers are DU community members. Each tracer is trained on their confidentiality and privacy obligations. This is consistent with DU’s approach to contact tracing since March, and we are currently growing our team to meet the demands of having more people on campus.

Symptom Monitoring

The Everbridge app will make the twice-daily symptom reporting more efficient. Many community members are already familiar with our symptom monitoring requirements. For some, you will begin this process for the first time soon. Using Everbridge for contact tracing is optional, but reporting symptoms is mandatory. If you opt not to use Everbridge, you can report your symptoms here.

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging and dynamic, but the University is working tirelessly to protect the health and wellbeing of our community without sacrificing what we cherish so deeply. The work we do at DU, the learning and teaching, the research, and community building—all of it is worth protecting.

As we head into the fall term, I ask that you #DUYourPart—that we all do our part— to protect our community and ensure we can stay on campus. Wear a face covering. Practice social distancing and hand hygiene. Report your symptoms. Opt into location and proximity tracing. Promptly report positive COVID-19 results at or by text or call to 303.871.COVD.

Through this network of safety measures, we will be doing good for ourselves, our friends and colleagues, for DU, and for the larger Denver community.


Jeremy Haefner