This week we focus on the intersection of technology, media and the COVID19 pandemic. We’ve got a jumbo show with two segments- first a discussion with Alexis Madrigal, a staff writer at The Atlantic, a co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project,and the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology, on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Covid Tracking Project, and also a turning point for it- today, Sunday March 7th, marks the end of the project’s daily data collection.
And then, we listen in on a panel discussion on contract tracing technologies, privacy, and the challenges we face as a society in developing and implementing such systems in an emergency.
“A global wave of experimentation in using smartphones to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus has stumbled over privacy concerns, security glitches and slow program rollouts, leaving dozens of initiatives, including in the United States, with little evidence of success,” began an article in the Washington Post last year.
To get a better sense of the issues, we listen to a panel discussion titled Privacy Impacts of Modern Contract Tracing for Future Pandemic Response that took place a the end of January during a day of discussion hosted by Santa Clara county. The Mercury News reported at the end of November that even during a surge in Santa Clara County contact tracing staff consistently reported reaching 80% or more of cases and contacts within 24 hours of the positive test confirmation, an industry standard and exceeding the performance of such operations in other parts of the country. So it’s a good place to look for best practices.
The discussion is moderated by Deirdre Mulligan, a Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley and a faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology moderates the session, which includes Brandie Nonnecke – Director, CITRIS Policy Lab, UC Berkeley; Brian Hofer – Chair, Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission and Steve Penrod – VP Product Development, TripleBlind.
Go deeper with a look at this policy report from the CITRIS Policy Lab.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.