Tuesday 28 April 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* UK takes centralised approach to contact tracing

nhsx logoOver the last month there have been many twists and turns in the world of contact tracing. The convoluted path towards developing national systems for informing those potentially exposed to COVID-19 has been fraught with tension between government, academia and business—at the heart of these disagreements is the privacy of citizens (see Concerns about contact tracing apps continue to grow).

NHSX is leading the development of the UK’s contact tracing technology (see Contact tracing apps: NHS, Apple and Google). The app, which will form part of a wider approach involving manual contact tracing and widescale testing, will follow a centralised approach, as opposed to a decentralised strategy where data is only stored locally.

Speaking at the House of Commons Science and Technology Commons Select Committee yesterday (28 April 2020), Matthew Gould said development of the app will be iterative. The first version, which is being developed by the Pivotal team at VMware, will not include all the features that NHSX would like, but additional functionality will be added over time. This will include allowing users to offer additional information, including location data, if they are willing to do so. He went on to say that he thinks there is a false dichotomy between centralised and decentralised approaches—NHSX firmly believes that its centralised approach preserves people’s privacy.

The app will roll out in a controlled way to a small area of the country within two weeks, with mass deployment taking place according to the wider government strategy of how it exits the lockdown.

UKHVPremium logoA centralised approach may give governments more flexibility to adapt at speed to new epidemiological data, it may allow a greater amount of additional data to be collected, thus improving the effectiveness of the technology, and it may allow greater accuracy in tracing, but it also raises far greater privacy concerns (see COVID-19 contact tracing apps: privacy and freedom).

UKHotViews Premium and research subscribers can read more about the centralised and decentralised approaches to contact tracing and the associated privacy and ethical considerations here. For more information about TechMarketView's subscription services please contact Deb Seth

Posted by Dale Peters at '15:26' - Tagged: nhs   app   healthcare   covid-19