The Safe Blues 2021 Experiment

Advance science with a chance to win iPads and other cool prizes

Kia ora!

If you are a student, staff member, or regular visitor of The University of Auckland City Campus, then we invite you to participate in the anonymized Safe Blues campus experiment. Even if you aren't a participant, the experiment may interest you, so read on.

The experiment will improve scientific understanding of how social mobility and epidemic spread interact and how evolving technologies for assessing epidemic spread can be improved. In a nutshell, the experiment involves transmitting virtual and safe 'virus-like' tokens by Bluetooth between phones, mimicking the properties of real virus transmission. The resulting data provides predictions of real virus prevalence in the population. These predictions would be possible well in advance of those obtained through currently used indicators such as positive test results and hospitalizations. Here is a more detailed overview of the experiment.

Onboarding instructions and the participant information sheet terms and conditions are below, but first watch a short welcome video:

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How to take part

Want to participate? We want you in! Just make sure that you satisfy the following:

* We apologize to iOS users - the Safe Blues experimental app is currently only implemented for Android.

As a participant, we hope that you run the Safe Blues app whenever you are on campus. However, you are not obligated to do so. Further, at any point you may uninstall the app, and also opt to leave the experiment.

To make it fun, your participation will be rewarded by collected campus hours which you could track and compare to the hours of the other participants. No one sees your exact hours, but you see the overall distribution.

Your hours will be used for three periodic prize draws with prizes including iPads, phones, and FitBit trackers. The more hours you have, the higher your chances for winning a quality prize. See the prize draw terms and conditions for more information.

If participation is of interest to you, you may read further details from the participant information sheet and join. You may also learn more via our answers to the FAQ below.

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Participant Information Sheet

Leader Board

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Contact

Q: Do I need to provide any personal information beyond an e-mail address?
A: No. The only information needed is your e-mail address and this is simply for you to recieve updates about the experiment and the prize draw.

Q: I want to understand the scientific benefit this experiment. Where can I find out more?
A: Basic information about the experiment is here. Further information about Safe Blues including research papers, talks, and media coverage is on the Safe Blues site.

Q: I would like more information about the prize draws. How does it work? What are the prizes? What are the exact rules?
A: All information about the prize draws is here.

Q: Why is the experiment only for Android phones?
A: The Safe Blues app was developed with minimal research resources and has thus so far only been implemented for a single platform. The choice of Android initially is also due to the fact that with Android it is easier to run an app in the background.

Q: I want to participate, and plan to be on the University of Auckland City Campus regularly, but I don't have an Android phone. What can I do?
A: In general, you will not be able to participate without an Android phone.

Q: Where is information from the experiment stored and will the data be openly available?
A: Your (minimal) personal information such as your e-mail address, your agreement to the terms and conditions, and your experiment-id are stored in a server managed by The University of Auckland, and this data will not be analyzed as part of the research project and will remain private. In contrast, the Safe Blues aggregate data is collected in a web-server on the cloud. This data is fully anonymized and after the experiment is finished it will be used for research and opened up as a publicly available dataset.

Q: How can I withdraw my participation and what happens if I choose to withdraw?
A: At any point of time you may stop using the app, uninstall the app, or even ask us (via e-mail) to purge your collected campus hours so that you do not participate in the prize raffle. Your personal data will then be deleted, however the aggregate data that you contributed to Safe Blues up to the point of departure will remain as part of the collected Safe Blues data.

Q: What effect does the Safe Blues app have on my phone battery usage?
A: Safe Blues does use some battery power as it runs in the background because it transmits and receives periodic Bluetooth signals. It isn't as intense as watching a streamed YouTube video, but still uses some battery.

Q: What does the Safe Blues app do with Bluetooth and location services?
A: The use of Bluetooth is central to the Safe Blues protocol because it uses Bluetooth signals to simulate (virtual) virus spread. Location services on the other hand are simply used for the purpose of collecting campus hours. If you are within a geo-fenced region of campus, your campus hours are collected, otherwise not.

Q: I re-installed the app, and/or switched phone, and now I have a different experiment-id (10 digits). What should I do?
A: Please write an e-mail to our team and we will merge your previous campus hours from your previous experiment-id to your new experiment-id.

Q: I want to participate in the experiment, but do not wish to provide my e-mail details or participate in the prize draw. What can I do?
A: This is possible, please ask us via e-mail.

Q: I am interested in joining after a prize draw has already taken place. Can I do that?
A: You may join anytime up to the third prize draw.

Q: How do my campus hours update? I installed the app on campus, have been here for a few hours and do not see an update.
A: In general, the app updates campus hours at least once per 24 hours. Further, the app updates campus hours whenever you enter and then leave the campus. This means that if you install the app on campus, your hours for your first day on campus will not be recorded. Your first hours recorded will be for the next time in which you enter and leave the campus.

If you require more information beyond what is available here, don't hesitate to contact the Safe Blues team via e-mail.

Main Safe Blues Page

The Safe Blues experiment is managed and supported by The University of Auckland, and is also funded by The University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne. Other collaborators from other institutions are listed on the main Safe Blues page.