Press Release

New app allows citizen scientists to contribute to effort to contain COVID-19

A new app will allow anyone to contribute real-world data to the effort to understand COVID-19. “MaskCount” from Regenstrief Institute lets users document the number of people they witness wearing and not wearing masks without identifying anyone. This information will be made available and combined with other COVID-19 data, such as case counts and hospitalizations, to better understand outbreaks.

The app is available for free on Android and Apple devices. Users can simply provide information about mask-wearing behavior they witness around them. Regenstrief research scientists will then analyze the observations and merge it with other information to inform leaders as they make decisions about public health policies.

The app protects privacy by allowing users to simply provide their location and the number of people wearing and not wearing masks; the app does not allow people to take pictures or enter any identifying information. Users can enter the information as frequently as they choose and consult data from others around them to see masking trends in the area.

“Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but usage has been difficult to track,” said Peter Embí, M.D., M.S., Regenstrief president and chief executive officer, Indiana University School of Medicine professor and leader of the project. “Citizen scientists will enable research scientists and data analysts to understand how people have been utilizing masks in outbreak areas, allowing us to determine correlations between mask use and viral spread. This information could inform knowledge, research and policy as we work to end the pandemic.”

Dr. Embí commissioned HICAPPS SpA, an app development company based in Chile, to create the user-friendly interface.


Donations to support the app

The MaskCount app from Regenstrief is intended to be an accessible resource and the data shared and collaboratively applied for the benefit of Indiana, the U.S. and around the world. Overarching goals include compiling information to be shared for research, policy, safety and anyone interested in the effects masks have on the coronavirus. To contribute to continuing development of this app, go to: URL.


About Regenstrief Institute

Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. A key research partner to Indiana University, Regenstrief and its research scientists are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Regenstrief Institute is celebrating 50 years of healthcare innovation. Sam Regenstrief, a successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.



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