Insight

Architecture at Pace – Contact Tracing in Fifteen Weeks

One of the most sought after and perhaps controversial aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been to exploit technology to help in the battle against the virus.

There are many technical and ethical concerns to be overcome. How can a wide variety of smartphones, with multiple operating systems be exploited to ‘track’ proximity? What are the ethical dilemmas relating to privacy? Can data be centralised or will be a de-centralised solution be feasible?

How can all these decisions be packed into a fifteen-week delivery schedule? What does Architecture at Pace look like?

We were very lucky to be able to interview one of our good friends recently, Gar Mac Críosta, Product Manager for Covid Tracker, the Contact Tracing app that was recently rolled out in Ireland. The app was downloaded by more than half of the adults in Ireland in the first ten days.

“On the 18th of March. We didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t know really what the problem was. The general problem is…how do you find those people who’ve been too close for too long in the context of COVID-19. Too close is within two meters and too long is for more than 15 minutes.”

Privacy by Design

“Privacy advocates are quite loud in terms of their demands to understand what we’re going to do as we’re trying to explore what we’re going to do. And I think that became kind of the backdrop to this whole thing, is the privacy by design piece. Are we gathering information that we shouldn’t gather? And it’s really trying to do that in a sense at a population scale. So if I’m gathering every time you move, so your GPS coordinates every time you move, that’s kind of invasive.”

To listen to the fascinating insights as to how these problems and many more were resolved in fifteen weeks, watch the full interview below.