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The COVID-19 epidemic hangs on all of us — Bitmark is trying to help

Bitmark Inc.
Jul 3 · 3 min read

(originally sent on May 11)

It’s been a stressful last few months for everyone at Bitmark, and I am sure you or many people you know have been struggling as well. After the last newsletter, we had expected to launch Spring, our app to help people get their Facebook data, understand it, and eventually use it under their own control.

As we saw the suffering caused by COVID-19, however, we felt an obligation to use our resources to help.

You may already know that through our past efforts in healthcare, our team has learned from patients around the world who suffered greatly from data breaches or were denied access to their health data. Since then, these insights have led our work to put individuals in full control of their data. Our past projects include helping Pfizer match patients to clinical trials while preserving privacy, UC Berkeley safely source health data from underrepresented populations for public health studies, and H2 form the world’s first data trust to cure diabetes.

As we spoke with people about the impact of COVID-19, we learned that people understood what was going on at a greater regional level, but did not know what this meant specifically for them. Was anyone in their neighborhood affected? Were certain areas nearby less exposed to the virus than others? Where would it be safe to take family for a walk?

In response, we are building Autonomy to answer these questions through local neighborhood health forecasts. These forecasts are presented through a numerical score that encapsulates the relative danger of a neighborhood. Autonomy learns from data provided by you, those near you, and verified public sources — every so often, you’ll receive a notification when your neighborhood’s health forecast has changed and requests to share information about how you are doing. Your privacy is always protected.

While Autonomy was created to help measure the spread of COVID-19, our vision is for much wider applicability by enabling mass participation in public health. In the future it might detect cancer clusters or assess how common the cold is in your local community. It might help to evaluate the precise effects of pollution or allergens on our health. It can be an early warning system, a danger assessor, and an analytic research tool. It can help us all to get better. Together.

We expect to launch Autonomy next week in Taiwan, and we are talking with partners throughout the US and Europe to help us support local communities — Autonomy needs local, verified data along with advocates to get the word out. If you can help, please reach out to me. As with the Bitmark protocol, Autonomy is open-source software and available for anyone to use, validate, or modify for themselves.

To join the waiting list or learn more, visit https://bitmark.com/products/autonomy/faq

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Thanks for reading, and keep up the support for #digitalrights.

Michael Nguyễn
Head of Operations, Bitmark
www.bitmark.com

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