Supporting Contact Tracing Efforts for COVID-19

In a pandemic, public health involves much more than simply testing and treating people with symptoms. It also involves identifying and alerting people who may have been in contact with people testing positive for a contagious disease, to help stop its further spread to others.

The current COVID-19 crisis has been a sobering lesson on the importance of quickly tracking down contacts of infected people. As the US and world economies begin to reopen, and more people are in contact with each other, this has become more important than ever. In this article, we will look at what Service Objects is doing to help facilitate this mission-critical task of contact tracing to protect the public.

Why contact tracing is important

Contact tracing, which involves the rapid identification and notification of people who have potentially been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, is described by the US Centers for Disease Control as “a key strategy for preventing the further spread of COVID-19.” Given the potential for community transmission of the disease, timely and accurate tracing activities are critical to flattening the curve of infections.

Despite the media buzz around new apps purported to be the solution for contact tracing, the reality is that many states and counties still use a manual process for collecting this data. Manual data entry brings with it an increased risk of errors, which can result in delays in contacting individuals who have potentially been exposed. By using automated data validation tools, government agencies and public health authorities can ensure having accurate contact information in real time.

How we can help

Service Objects’ services can help optimize contact tracing efforts by verifying that contact data is accurate, genuine and up-to-date at the point of entry, using real-time validation tools that leverage continuously updated official and proprietary data sources. Some of these include:

Phone lookup services such as DOTS GeoPhone Plus can verify phone line type and ownership data, while DOTS Phone Append can append missing phone data to contact records.

Address verification and validation, such as our flagship DOTS Address Validation products, will validate, append and correct address data using postal and other proprietary databases.

Change of address updates, using tools such as DOTS NCOA Live, which taps into the USPS national change-of-address database to help trace contacts who may have moved.

Geocoding tools such as DOTS Address Geocode allow contact address data to be mapped and tracked visually, by translating addresses into accurate latitude and longitude coordinates.

Name validation helps ensure that contact names are correct – particularly those provided verbally by people who may be ill, elderly or confused, or mis-typed during data entry. DOTS Name Validation can check these names in real time.

We also realize that it is important for busy state and local public health departments to hit the ground running at a time like this. When we speak with agencies directly, we take a sample of their data, which our engineers examine and run through our services to best suit what contact data they need fixed, appended, etc. We provide a free consultation to review the results of their sample and discuss how contact validation APIs can get their contact tracing efforts up and running more quickly.

Part of our mission has always been supporting the public good, and this has never been more important than during this global health crisis. If you work in this sector and need assistance with improving the speed and accuracy of your own organization’s contact tracing efforts, we stand ready to help you – contact us to speak with our team about your specific needs.