Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Contact-tracing applications: a review of technologies


Background Using different technologies for healthcare-related purposes has been significantly accelerated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This outbreak highlighted the need for digital contact-tracing applications to effectively manage the pandemic by identifying positive case close contacts that might be the virus carriers.

Objective The objective of this review is to examine design decisions related to COVID-19 contact-tracing applications and the implications of these decisions. This review can be a useful aid in navigating the existing approaches in COVID-19 digital contact tracing and their different aspects including the potential supported functions, privacy and security.

Method A narrative review was conducted using Google Scholar database from August to October 2020, limited to English language articles and reports published after 2010.

Main outcome Different technologies have been used for digital contact tracing. The choice of these technologies and their software architectures could influence different factors such as data collection accuracy and effectiveness of an application in identifying possible virus spread. Furthermore, different technologies require different levels of user interaction and have different security and privacy concerns which could potentially impact application adoption.

Conclusion Digital contact tracing has been introduced as one of the easy and efficient methods to trace people in close contact with infected COVID-19 cases. This tracing could be an effective strategy to break the chain of infection transmission among people. However, based on the used technology and the software architecture, different contact-tracing applications offer different possible trade-offs that should be taken into account based on government’s objectives on contact tracing.

  • COVID-19
  • public health
  • communicable diseases
  • policy

Data availability statement

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the article or available through traditional means (PubMed, Google Scholar).

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.