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How (and how not) to use data in a crisis

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How and how not to use data in a crisis

Data is not the panacea

How (and how not) to use data in a crisis. Focus on basics, beware of shiny new things. The Data Software giant, Palantir has released a blog reflecting on what we've learned from the covid-19 pandemic. Its opinions are worth hearing, not least because it specialises in public sector activities, and has large government clients globally, including a number of health bodies.

While recognising the value of data-driven efforts in the pandemic response, the company sees as folly ‘the exalting of data or technology alone as a sufficient first-order focus’. Two responses, in particular, came in for heavy criticism. During the early stages of the pandemic, policymakers were seeking to understand the effectiveness of movement restrictions, such as lockdowns and curfews, in reducing community transmission. Cue the emergence of a ‘mobility data ecosystem’ in which, the company says, location information was often derived from sources with questionable transparency and privacy practices. There was insufficient attention paid to the bias in device and application adoption and the effect it would have on the accuracy of the data. Many data sources have since become the target of legislative scrutiny.


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How (and how not) to use data in a crisis

Russell Seekins Russell Seekins Interim Editor, Intermedia; Partner, Re:Strategy
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