Smart Cities, Digital Health and Covid19

For me one of the most fascinating things about the Covid19 pandemic has been watching ideas that I had been studying during my PhD becoming reality.  In line with the themes of utopia and dystopia in my thesis, these have been both positive and concerning.

Positive developments include how collective intelligence has materialised in different ways.  This includes open data, citizen science and collective intelligence initiatives that have brought together expertise from around the world to help solve this crisis.  We have for example seen open source designs for 3D printing emerging, a self-reporting app for covid19, and in Japan a data map identifying where face masks could be purchased.  One of the most interesting development has been gamification that has engaged people in helping to design potential medicines through online game playing.  More examples are outlined here

Some of the dystopian themes from my study have however also emerged in the form of surveillance and social control.  With discussion about the use of contact tracing apps to help end lockdown these themes could hardly seem more relevant.  On this issue I feel quite conflicted.  One the one hand I can see how contact tracing has worked in other countries including South Korea and Taiwan.  On the other I am concerned about what data will be collected and what it could be used for later.  One of the most bizarre developments is that many people seem to place more trust in the app that has been developed by Google and Apple than the one developed by NHSX.  I found it disturbing that Cambridge Analytica has recently been trending on twitter in relation to the NHS contact tracing app.  I also found it interesting to spot that one of the academic authors that I referenced in the dystopia section of my thesis writing about surveillance and Covid19, I enclose a link here

This is just a start.  More thoughts to follow soon

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