Digital solutions in response to the COVID-19 crisis have been made possible through advances in wireless technology, mobile and the Internet-of-Things during the last two decades.
Digital solutions deployed in the fight against COVID-19 must be designed with the appropriate checks and balances, to ensure they uphold individual civil liberties and protect the health of the community. In other words, whilst the benefits associated with digital solutions are compelling, we must strike a balance between individual liberty and building a more resilient community.
Unintended consequences must be considered and designed out of solutions, and governments and property owners can limit the risk of such outcomes through several strategies. For example, inside a building, this could be deploying Bluetooth beaconing instead of video analytics for monitoring social distancing. Bluetooth beacons are far less powerful than video analytics, yet provide similar functionality whilst preserving occupants’ autonomy.
Processes should be in place for the periodic review and deletion of data that is no longer needed. A good framework for designing best-practice digital solutions is GDPR and the principle of data minimisation: collecting the minimal amount of data possible to carry out the specific function and processes should be in place for the periodic review and deletion of data that is no longer needed.
What’s clear is that there is an outstanding need for guidelines and governance in relation to data collection and management (going beyond that of GDPR) to ensure the health and safety of the public whilst respecting the individuals’ right to data sovereignty and ownership.