Colleges reopen with an assist from tech

Sharad Mehrotra and his associates at the University of California, Irvine are developing a way to trace contacts that accounts for both challenges. Their approach uses the school’s Wi-Fi network and specially designed software to collect data from sensors that can track individuals via their connected devices. When someone tests positive and shares their diagnosis, the system warns other students who have been near the carrier—all while keeping each person’s identity private. “Our technology has the potential to stop super-spreader events, even if we don’t know the super-spreader,” says Mehrotra, a professor of computer science at UC Irvine.