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New app from University of Memphis tracks social distancing

It will alert you when you have violated CDC distancing guidelines.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Want to track your social distancing? There’s an app for that. Researchers at the University of Memphis created MContain.org.

The researchers at the MD2K Center for Excellence at the U of M say creating an app for your phone usually takes months, but they worked around the clock and created this one in about two weeks.

Credit: University of Memphis

Its creators say MContain.org uses location and blue tooth technologies in smart phones. It can do everything from detecting how close you've gotten to someone, to how much time you've spent around other users.

To reduce to chance of entering crowded places, the app can display the level of crowding at busy spots on a map. It even has the possibility of alerting people of potential exposure locations.

Credit: University of Memphis

“We do have to go out. We do have to go and do those essential things. This can help you make an informed decision," said Joe Biggers, Director of Operations

If you do violate social distancing guidelines, the app sends you a notification. But its creators say that's it. Your privacy is maintained.

"We don't want your email address. We don't want your phone number. We don't need any of that information to leverage the technology on your cell phone to understand and help to answer these questions about social distancing," said Shahin Samiei, Associate Director of Research. "We are not filtering this information to government agencies. We’re not giving this information to one person or another. You, Jen, could go and see it and report it on the media. I can see it and say I'm not going to go to Tom Lee Park today. And if the police were going to take a look at it and say, ‘hey maybe we need to send some cruisers down there to say maybe y'all out to break things up.’ It is out there for the public to digest."

Credit: University of Memphis

Its creators say the more people who download the app, the better the information it will have to share with the public.

Right now, the free app can only be downloaded for Android users. iPhone will be available shortly, but anyone with an computer can log into to the Mcontain.org website to see where busy hot spots are in the Memphis metropolitan area.

Credit: University of Memphis

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