Imperial College London

Business School launches new app to help measure personal COVID-19 risk

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Academics from the Business School have created a research tool to calculate personal risk from coronavirus based on everyday activities.

The web-based YRisk-COVID app is designed to help people estimate their individual daily risk of infection from COVID-19, which may help people plan and manage their lives more effectively when lockdown restrictions lift.

The app, which is still in the development stages, will enable people to weigh up the risks associated with daily activities such as commuting to work, playing sport or socializing with friends in busy public places such as bars and restaurants.

While the app is unique in that it focuses on personal risk, it is not intended to supplant other apps, such as that from the NHS for COVID tracking, and public health experts continue to advise individuals to also consider the collective risks associated with the pandemic.

Users of the YRisk-COVID app will be able to input information about aspects of their daily lives, including their location, the number of occupants in their household and whether or not they are working from home. They will also be asked questions relating to the number of hours they spend on various activities and the frequency of their interactions with members of their household and others outside the home.  

After inputting their data into the app, users will receive a personalised risk ‘score’ which could help people adjust their daily routines to help minimize their risk of catching the virus, both individually and to others in their household. The personal risk score is unique to the person using the app and goes beyond the regional scores estimated for people collectively for different parts of the country.

The YRisk-COVID app is a research tool which is still in the development stages and is designed for estimating personal risk. As the app looks at a wide range ofactivities including work, modes of travel and social activities, it will help Imperial academics gain useful insights into the wider economic impact associated with people’s daily activities.

“YRisk-COVID adds to our growing armamentarium of tools to better understand factors that can contribute to an increased risk of infection." Professor the Lord Ara Darzi Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation

Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Imperial College Business School and one of the leaders of the project said: “For the UK Government, the challenge is to protect people’s health whilst minimizing further damage to the economy. Individuals also face the challenge of understanding their personal risks of catching the coronavirus and we hope this app will be an effective tool, especially after lockdown restrictions ease, for helping people make better sense of their individual risks.”

Dr Chris Cormack, Research Fellow at the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment and another project leader said: “The data collected from the app will be used to gather insights which will help policy-makers plan for future pandemics which are anticipated as a result of climate change, as well as behavioural changes when COVID-19 suppression measures can be relaxed. The need to develop effective ways of engaging people with public health messages that are directly relevant for the individual, wider society, and to mitigate the associated risks at all scales of the economy will be crucial. Applications such as YRisk-COVID have a role to play in helping that process.”

People are encouraged to use the app in conjunction with the latest Government guidelines and alongside other tools already in existence such as the official NHS test and trace app.

The YRisk-COVID app has been created by researchers at Imperial College Business School in collaboration with researchers from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health.

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, co-director of Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation and one of the academics involved in the project, said: “YRisk-COVID adds to our growing armamentarium of tools to better understand factors that can contribute to an increased risk of infection. Alongside helping individuals to plan their actions and lower their risk, the information gleaned will support ongoing efforts to monitor the situation, such as our REACT programme, offering a more comprehensive picture of the evolving epidemic.”

Future plans for the research generated by the app includes a look at how companies could use the app to implement more effective risk management strategies and an analysis of the risks relating to industry sectors and patterns of working.

The researchers are planning to develop the app into a mobile version that will be available for people to download and access on their digital devices. To access the current website app visit the YRisk-COVID website

 

Reporter

Laura Singleton

Laura Singleton
Communications and Public Affairs

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