ND Physics PhD Alum Ayan Paul (2012) develops new app for Corona risk assessment: CoVis

Author: Shelly Goethals

Ayan Paul

(originally posted at DESY News)

Note: Dr. Ayan Paul is a 2012 ND Physics PhD. He was advised by Prof. Ikaros Bigi.

From theoretical physics to entrepreneurship propelled by a deadly new virus: DESY physicist Ayan Paul is launching a new app against Corona with his spin-off company. It combines public data with personal information and location, providing users with a highly individualized assessment of their current risk to contract SARS-CoV-2 with recommendations for action.

The CoVis app is available now in the US and German app stores for iOS and Android. It provides users with information on the current Corona situation in their respective area in order to protect themselves optimally against the SARS-CoV-2 virus every day. For example, it reports regions with a particular risk of infection so that they can be avoided. The goal of the new app: to inform individuals, communities, companies and business or schools, hospitals and policy makers to help fight the disease and stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from spreading. The CoVis app can also support healthcare providers and public institutions in drawing up pandemic guidelines by delivering reliable data. Unlike others COVID-19 related apps, CoVis does not rely on contact tracing, nor does it collect any data from users. Privacy and data security are guaranteed.

CoVis uses robust and explainable AI to predict outbreaks and detect anomalies in disease spread using public data and feeding in existing medical knowledge into the algorithm. Combined with personalized information about age, pre-existing conditions and movement habits, CoVis helps making informed choices about which areas or places to avoid and when.

CoVis was developed by a team of young researchers. Ayan Paul, a theoretical physicist at DESY, is a member of the team, which won the Covid-19 Challenge hackathon of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in April 2020 and June 2020. The team of experts with different backgrounds and experiences, from UX design to public health experts, connected within minutes at the hackathon. In the team and for the app development Paul capitalizes on his knowledge and experience in detailed statistical algorithms and models, which he acquired from data analyses and interpretation of data sets from experiments at particle accelerators.

For Ayan Paul and the team, the development of the CoVis app is a chance to put a mutual vision into reality and help fight the coronavirus pandemic with their very own expertise. DESY supported the initiative early on with a grant from its DESY Strategy Fund within the context of a Corona-call, which aimed at supporting Corona related research projects. “It is one of our goals at DESY to use core competencies from basic research in physics and related fields to develop solutions to relevant questions and challenges we are facing as a society today – that includes the fight against the pandemic”, said Dr. Arik Willner, Chief Technology Officer at DESY. “Ayan shows with his exemplary initiative the impact of a core competency physics brings to everyday applications: the analysis and modeling of big data and bringing probability into context.”

Paul, who worked on developing CoVis next to his full-time job at DESY, is motivated by putting his knowledge and expertise to benefit society and public health. In addition, the teamwork with people he previously didn’t know is very inspirational: “I think, we succeeded so well as a team and were able to put CoVis together so quickly, because we all have the same intrinsic motivation and vision. In addition, we were all starting with a clean slate, there were no rules or defined processes of a corporate or institutional setting.”

The DESY Start-up Office supported the CoVis team with designing a business plan for the app as well as coaching and consultations that led to the foundation of Covis Inc. The next steps for CoVis, which has recently been chosen as a finalist for this year´s Falling Walls conference, are offering the app in other markets and languages. In the long run Covis Inc wishes to diversify into global disease management. They aim at establishing R&D facilities for building new structures and algorithms that will help them to usher in a new era of disease management in low- and middle-income countries alongside delivering health and wellness information to millions of users in developed nations. CoVis puts user privacy and data security upfront by building these aspects into the architecture using federated computations and analytics.

More about CoVis:

The CoVis app is available for free for all users and includes the following features:

-           7 days COVID-19 forecast for all counties in the USA and all districts in Germany

-           Full score timeline for knowing your risk score history

-           All historical data and score breakdowns

-           User account to store your risk scores and breakdown if you want to create an account with CoVis (optional)

-           Account and data management (if you choose to create an account with CoVis)


CoVis Inc. information and support: https://covishealth.com

CoVis in the Apple AppStore: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/covis/id1558577130

CoVis in the Google PlayStore: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.covisinc.covis