Covid-19 Info Center

July 8, 2020

Data collection to inform a return to campus

To the members of the MIT community,

Over the last three months, a team of on-campus faculty and Lincoln Laboratory researchers have been working to develop what we are calling the MIT Covid-19 Response System (MCRS). In short, MCRS is a dashboard that will integrate data from existing on-campus sources to help MIT’s medical and operational leaders understand where on campus there is increasing infection risk, and make informed decisions aimed at mitigating that risk.

The MIT Quest for Intelligence and Lincoln’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Systems Group are building the system’s architecture, in close coordination with teams focused on data integration, contact tracing, health, operations, and data analysis and modeling. Importantly, at the center of it all is the Legal, Ethical, and Equity Committee for MIT Campus Planning (LEE). Made up of faculty, students, and staff, LEE ensures that the collection and use of all data related to our campus ramp-up activities occur in a manner consistent with federal and state law and regulation, Institute policies and procedures, and MIT’s ethical standards and values.

Per LEE’s guiding principles to promote transparency, we write to inform you that LEE and the co-chairs of the Information Technology Governance Committee have approved the MCRS architects’ request for access to de-identified data, consisting of the following four sources:

  • Covid Access System, which stores DLCs’ individualized plans for building access;
  • Daily records of campus badge readers;
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) campus layouts; and
  • Floor plans that PIs submitted as part of the research ramp-up planning process.

The data will enable the MCRS team to model building density and entrance flux, without collecting or retaining information about any individual. Any request to expand the system or the use of the data collected will undergo further LEE review.

While the data collected will be de-identified, the system includes an opt-out option. When completing the acknowledgement form in the Covid Pass app (available here to those authorized for on-campus access), you may opt out of data collection. New and existing users of Covid Pass may opt out of data collection at any time by resubmitting the acknowledgement form.

We have published additional information in an FAQ, with details about all datasets that will be requested over time, including the data collection and protection processes. We will update the document if and when each additional use of the data is approved.

As MIT moves closer to a return to campus, we do so with a deep commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our community. MCRS represents an essential step in that direction.


Maria T. Zuber
Vice President for Research

Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education