New web app lets public report mask use during COVID-19 pandemic

The app, known as MaskCount, was created by researchers at Regenstrief Institute and is intended to provide scientists with real-world data and observations having to do with mask compliance and COVID-19. The user-friendly app gives everyone the opportunity to become a “citizen scientist,” by utilizing your own smartphone to anonymously report the number of people you see wearing and not wearing masks. The only requirement for becoming a “citizen scientist” is being a member of the general public, willing to collect data for researchers to analyze as part of their research studies. MaskCount is designed to help better understand the effects of masks during the pandemic and develop responses meant to control and contain its spread.

To utilize the app, you will need to log in using your email address, phone number, or an existing social media account, and share a name. The app will share your device’s geo-location each time you report a new “mask” or “no mask” observation, but it will not otherwise track your location. Your observations will then be analyzed by data scientists and public health researchers to help them further educate about the importance of wearing a mask in today’s COVID-19 environment.

The data being collected through the MaskCount app are an important part of understanding what role masks play in reducing transmission and keeping people safe and healthy from the virus. Unfortunately, not much data exists yet on mask-wearing. In addition to this, Regenstrief knows that many people, both scientists and non-scientists, want to do something to help be a part of the solution to the pandemic. By creating this app, Regenstrief researchers hope that everyone can come together to fight against COVID-19. Regenstrief Institute is a key partner of Indiana University School of Medicine.

“We wanted to create something that not only makes it easy for people to collect and share valuable, new data to improve our understanding of mask effectiveness, but also makes it easy and fun for anyone to “swipe for science” and become a “citizen scientist,” says Regenstrief Institute, CEO Peter Embi, MD.

If you want to be a “citizen scientist” and help researchers with this study, you can find more information about MaskCount on their website here.