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Life-Saving Data

2 April Subscribe
Tech news, HAT-slanted 
Issue 168

Data to Save Lives

Want to know which US states nailed social distancing today? Just check the Social Distancing Scoreboard, which grades them according to how diligent their population are with staying home. Meanwhile, a video capturing the movements of Florida spring break partygoers has gone viral; it shows 'the true impact of ignoring social distancing', says Tectonix, the company that produced it.
 
Such findings could potentially help save lives in the current pandemic, but there's concern about how they were produced: by analysing anonymised location data from smartphones, collected without real consent from their users. This comes as more governments are ramping up efforts to track and monitor behaviour to fight coronavirus. The UK's privacy watchdog has now OKed the government's use of phone data for this purpose, while the US government's already planning its epidemic response using location data from mobile ad companies (£). Once again, collected without users' explicit consent.

As more COVID-19 tracking and screening tech become available (like this much-downloaded symptom tracker app) the conversation is now moving on from the privacy-vs-public-health debate towards surveillance profiteering. It's inevitable that companies will capitalise on the current situation to push anything from fever-detecting AI thermal cameras to location intelligence platforms like the Social Distancing Scoreboard. But are they doing so ethically, with responsibly-sourced data?

Infrastructure for the surveillance economy is already in place, leeching everyday data from us to sell us things. So why not use it to save lives; even privacy activists are calling for it. But we can take it a step further, like what the Hack from Home hackathon is doing: find ways for people to contribute their data to fight the impact of COVID-19, rather than having it taken by opportunistic app makers.

Together, let's turn around dodgy data practices and find solutions to this pandemic. 
 

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The Past

Coronavirus in 2020 is bad enough. Imagine if it happened in 2005 instead.
 
But look what 2012 tech trends the pandemic's revived.

The Present

The NHS really needs a digital dashboard sounds to mobilise resources. But look who'll have access to our medical data... 
 
With many of us living our lockdown lives online, it's amazing the Internet hasn't collapsed. That’s why it should be a public utility
 
Lockdowns and WFH can pose a real challenge when you're a highly secretive company creating wildly popular devices.

The Future 

What life under coronavirus looks like in the year ahead. Spoiler: it's not going to be a breeze. 
 
But some good'll come out of it, such as 5G-powered tech that'll improve our post-pandemic lives

The Doghouse

Self-isolation's made Zoom a big player. But with power comes responsibility not to send our data to Facebook, or leak it to strangers
 
Data centres may be the new toilet paper, but a 775% surge in cloud usage sounds unreal. Turns out it wasn't quite what it seemed.
 
CashApp's great for cash giveaways, but not when scammers get their hands on it.

In Lockdown                 

Quaranteen U: Students missing campus life are recreating it on Minecraft
 
And look WHO's getting into games to help promote physical distancing. What was that again about a gaming disorder
 
love story in the time of coronavirus, as told on TikTok. 

HAT News 

One day more. Not long before over participants from around the world come together for the Hack from Home hackathon on Apr 4-5. A total of 547 participants from 47 countries. 😱 . Slack #askaquestion channel was buzz.ing. Still not too late to join us to help fight COVID-19!


Hack From Home Hackathon Latest numbers
Hack From Home Hackathon: Latest Numbers


Powerhouse partners. We're also psyched to be working with some amazing partners, from NHSX and renowned universities and research groups, to leading tech and healthcare centres in South Korea. Keep up with the latest hackathon news here
 
Now open source. “Edge algorithms” ethical data tools from the HAT's £1.1m EPSRC DROPS project, for Hack from Home. Thanks, University of Surrey CODE!

History lesson. How did the Personal Data Account (PDA) come about? Watch Irene Ng explain in this video.

Treasure trove. Check out Dataswift's Resource Repository if you have a burning question about Dataswift's tech.
 
Hej Billy. And a BIG welcome to Dataswift's new UX Designer Billy Boman, who hails from Stockholm.

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