This research project investigates digital technological surveillance strategies purported to mitigate the spread and scope of COVID-19. Patel (2020) argues that “while data can save lives at times of global public health crisis…it can only do this effectively if its use, management and governance, even at times of crisis, is underpinned by clear rules (grounded in law, ethics and human rights) about how best to use data; and trust in institutions to use data well”. Yet, the urgency to control the spread of COVID-19 has effectively limited opportunities to thoroughly consider the intended (disease containment) and unintended (e.g., violation of ethical practices and human rights standards) consequences (Patel, 2020).
We believe that decisions regarding the design, development, implementation and evaluation of digital surveillance technologies and the data generated from these technologies requires analytical oversight only possible at the intersection of diverse perspectives rather than a singular disciplinary or sector-specific viewpoint.
The proposed research involves a carefully constructed multi-disciplinary research team intended to investigate the use of digital technologies for surveillance in service of the management and mitigation of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will investigate technologies used within the global context and conduct a multidisciplinary analysis (using multi-sectoral indicators such as medical / public health, privacy, human rights, health policy, legal, gender) of technological surveillance strategies proposed to facilitate public health pandemic response (e.g., physical distancing and case contact tracing and management) to determine the short-(pandemic) and long-term (non-pandemic) implications of these strategies on multiple outcomes related to health, the economy, social and human rights.