A methodology for evaluating digital contact tracing apps based on the COVID-19 experience

Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 26;12(1):12728. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-17024-2.


Controlling the spreading of infectious diseases has been shown crucial in the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional contact tracing is used to detect newly infected individuals by tracing their previous contacts, and by selectively checking and isolating any individuals likely to have been infected. Digital contact tracing with the utilisation of smartphones was contrived as a technological aid to improve this manual, slow and tedious process. Nevertheless, despite the high hopes raised when smartphone-based contact tracing apps were introduced as a measure to reduce the spread of the COVID-19, their efficiency has been moderately low. In this paper, we propose a methodology for evaluating digital contact tracing apps, based on an epidemic model, which will be used not only to evaluate the deployed Apps against the COVID-19 but also to determine how they can be improved for future pandemics. Firstly, the model confirms the moderate effectiveness of the deployed digital contact tracing, confirming the fact that it could not be used as the unique measure to fight against the COVID-19, and had to be combined with additional measures. Secondly, several improvements are proposed (and evaluated) to increase the efficiency of digital control tracing to become a more useful tool in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Contact Tracing / methods
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Smartphone