Public interest technology and covid data - whose job is it?

06 August 2020

Lockdown rules differ across the UK and are set by different, overlapping layers of government - UK, devolved, local. The result is it’s hard to understand what the current rules are for any given location. GOV.UK lists the rules for England, set by the UK government only, not those set by the devolved administrations or local authorities.

Business over a certain size have been made to write risk assessments about the measures they are taking to keep staff and the public safe. They have been asked to publish these, but it seems few have, and those that have are mostly published as PDFs. So it’s not possible to understand the measures in place at a particular venue or report back if they are being stuck to.

A range of apps and practices have sprung up to support contact tracing by recording who attends a venue. But the public has to relearn the process at each venue.

These are all problems that good design, shared standards, and digital platforms are good at solving. Well designed digital services can abstract away the complexity and organisational boundaries. They can push important information based on context using structured data. And they can crowdsource datasets where they are incomplete.

Whose job is it to do this during the pandemic? There is a clear public interest.