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Scientists ask public to submit mask data via new app

The Regenstrief Institute launched its web-based app called Mask Count to let users document the number of people they see wearing or not wearing masks.

INDIANAPOLIS — Researchers are asking people to help collect data about mask usage with the help of a new app.

The Regenstrief Institute launched its web-based app called Mask Count to let users document the number of people they see wearing or not wearing masks.

“That allows us to create a map and then aggregate that information and be able to analyze to understand what is happening in mask-wearing in a particular area and then how does that correlate with what is happening with the pandemic in that area,” said Regenstrief Institute President Dr. Peter Embi.

Embi said the app does not identify anyone specifically and was designed to protect privacy. The app does not allow people to take pictures or enter any identifying information about those they observe.

“This is not about compliance or policing or checking. This is about getting better data to understand and inform what's happening, what is the correlation with other things we are seeing,” said Embi.

Scientists will analyze the observations and present the combined data online. They also plan to merge the submitted data with other information to assess the effects of public health policies and analyze whether mask-wearing is associated with other COVID-19 trends.

The app is available across countries in 15 different languages. Developers hope to launch a downloadable version in the future.

Click here to download the Mask Count app.