The GovLab Hosts a Webinar on Lessons Learned From Non-Traditional Data Use Amid COVID-19
On Friday, December 2nd, 2022, The GovLab with the support of the Knight Foundation hosted a webinar reviewing the use of non-traditional data during a pandemic crisis. During the hour and half session, Dr. Stefaan Verhulst–Co-Founder and Chief R&D at The GovLab–presented the major takeaways from The GovLab’s report, The #Data4COVID19 Review. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Verhulst with domain experts:
- Dr. Ana Beduschi: Professor of Law and Personal Chair at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom
- Dr. Chinwe Lucia Ochu: Director, Prevention Programmes & Knowledge Management and Head of Research at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
- Dr. Daniela Paolotti: Research Leader at ISI Foundation — Digital Epidemiology Laboratory and Data Science for Social Impact
The discussion explored how the use of non-traditional data increased during COVID-19 and key learnings from prominent use cases. Below we provide the highlights from the discussion:
- Dr. Paolotti discussed how non-traditional data can provide insights beyond understanding the virus itself, but also understanding peoples’ behaviors and perceptions of the pandemic. She explained that many non-traditional data initiatives during COVID-19 were the result of initiatives previously developed to track the flu and other diseases.
- Dr. Ochu explained that in Nigeria, data from social media platforms (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) was used to track the spread of false information about the pandemic and develop targeted public messaging. These initiatives benefited from existing relationships with organizations and community groups. She noted the importance of remembering the moral obligations of non-traditional data initiatives and always protecting data subjects.
- Dr. Ana Beduschi spoke to the risks of non-traditional data initiatives–specifically vaccine passports. From a data protection perspective, there are risks of processing the data beyond public health purposes, increased public surveillance by non-government actors, and continuing these initiatives beyond COVID-19. To mitigate these risks, she recommends policy makers require privacy assessments of all actions.
- Lastly, the experts discussed the actions needed to advance the responsible use of non-traditional data during future dynamic crises. They spoke to the need for increased trust, safeguards, transparency, and inclusivity among other topics.
Following the panel discussion, The GovLab shared two primers summarizing the key takeaways from our #Data4COVID19 Review report. The first primer explains what we mean by non-traditional data. It summarizes the main types and sources of non-traditional data used during COVID-19 and key use cases from around the world. The second primer discusses key takeaways from those non-traditional data use cases and actions to accelerate the responsible use of non-traditional data during crisis situations.
The recording of the webinar can be found below: