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Gary Mangiofico Authors Op-ed on the Potential of 'Data for Good' in CalMatters

Gary Mangiofico shares how COVID-19 is a great case study to address the public’s desire to have personal data protected and also demonstrates the value of using data appropriately. As public health officials and policymakers grapple with strategies to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the United States, one area of focus is contact tracing of individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Just last month, Google and Apple announced a new disease-monitoring capability that could be embedded into smartphones. In a joint statement, the companies said they “hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

Laboratorians and academic researchers are importing and contextualizing de-identified data for “hot spot” mapping and to inform decision-making on where to deploy public health resources. Aggregate data on demographics, socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, access to care and outcomes help pinpoint populations and regions of over- and/or underutilization of health care services. The Google-Apple app will maintain Bluetooth contacts on individual phones, rather than central servers – a critical differentiator that allows data to advance public health goals without sacrificing individual personal privacy, which is critically important. As elected officials focus on economic recovery, they should consider the tectonic shifts that have occurred over the last three months and assign greater value to policies that promote the good use of data along with appropriate considerations for personal privacy. Read more.