In Race To Develop Best Contact-Tracing Apps, Tech Giants Focus On Bluetooth, Phone Location Data
Reuters looks at where the development stands for apps meant to help public health officials track the virus. In other health tech news: policing misinformation, drone-based enforcement of social distancing and software that lets bosses watch their employees work.
Factbox: The Race To Deploy COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps
Technologists and health officials around the world are racing to develop smartphone apps to trace who has been in contact with carriers of the novel coronavirus. Contact-tracing, a disease control tactic that traditionally relies on patients’ memories of their movements, identifies people they might have infected so they too can be isolated. (5/14)
How Tech Giants Outflanked Governments In Virus Tracking Race
In the digital fight against COVID-19, Big Tech squared off against governments — and won. As policymakers around Europe pushed to develop smartphone apps to track the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google flexed their muscles by laying out conditions for building the tools, which are now set to be rolled out across the bloc and beyond by early June. (Scott, Braun, Delcker and Manancourt, 5/14)
Coronavirus Contact Tracers' Nemeses: People Who Don't Answer Their Phones
Massachusetts, praised by public health officials for being one of the first states to set up a coronavirus contact tracing program, is running into a problem: people aren’t picking up their phones. When investigators reach out to infected residents and those with whom they came into close contact, more than half of their calls are being ignored, health officials revealed in recent a press briefing with Gov. Charlie Baker. (Siegel, Abdelmalek and Bhatt, 5/15)
Facebook Studies Reveal Science Mistrust Winning On Vaccine Messaging
Facebook groups that fuel mistrust of health guidance, such as those that air anti-vaccine views, have gained the upper hand over groups with reliable information from health agencies, a team led by George Washington University reported yesterday in Nature. Meanwhile, a separate study showed that Facebook posts about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine were largely negative. (Schnirring, 5/14)
Did That Drone Just Tell Us To Stay 6 Feet Apart?
The plan for a pandemic drone didn’t last long in Westport, Connecticut. Within days in late April, the police department of the coastal town outside New York City reversed course on using drone-mounted cameras to scan crowds for fevers and coughs. The department had said it would use the technology at beaches, train stations, recreation areas and shopping centers. Biometric readings would help the department understand population patterns and respond to potential health threats. (Van Ness, 5/15)
Your Boss Is Watching You: Work-From-Home Boom Leads To More Surveillance
After two weeks of working from her Brooklyn apartment, a 25-year-old e-commerce worker received a staffwide email from her company: Employees were to install software called Hubstaff immediately on their personal computers so it could track their mouse movements and keyboard strokes, and record the webpages they visited. They also had to download an app called TSheets to their phones to keep tabs on their whereabouts during work hours. (Allyn, 5/13)