COVID-19

Our work

Understanding and mitigating how COVID-19 is changing data, AI and society

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our societies, global finance, health systems, employment and state services. Alongside the personal tragedies that the virus brings, we believe it presents a window of opportunity to fundamentally rethink the systems that govern our world, to help create new impetus to create better infrastructures. 

-> Read the Exit through the App Store? rapid evidence review

-> Read the update to the review Provisos for a Contact Tracing App

-> Read No green lights, no red lines. Public perspectives on COVID-19 technologies.

-> Read Confidence in a crisis? Building public confidence in a contact tracing app

-> Read from our blog: Exit through the App Store? Should the UK Government use technology to transition from the COVID-19 global public health crisis and Turn it off and on again: lessons learned from the NHS contact tracing app.

-> As we track public and private applications of public health identityand details as they emerge into the public domain, see more in our International Public Health Identity Systems Monitor

-> The Digital Contact Tracing Tracker – tracking digital contract tracing systems as they emerge around the world

-> Read all COVID-19 news and blog posts


COVID-19 has transformed attitudes and norms in an unprecedented timescale, ushering in a new period of state support to mitigate against current and future effects of the virus – and policy changes that will be felt well beyond the end of the pandemic.

As well as the global health crisis, COVID-19 brings direct and inequitable health risks, removing support and safeguards from vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse and people with mental health issues, as well as secondary health harms caused by a deep recession.

Framed by our existing research programmes (Rethinking data, Identities & liberties and JUST AI), COVID-19 will synthesise new and existing, cross-cutting research projects that will help inform current and future understanding of the pandemic and its effects on data and AI. This work will mitigate against current and future inequalities and harms, and build up an evidence base about the use of data and AI in public health emergencies.


In this context, our research will take the following form: 

  1. Technical considerations and societal implications of using technologies for disease control – and particularly using contact tracing, symptom tracking and immunity to transition from containing, delaying and mitigating the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuilding the economy and society (Identities & liberties programme)
  2. Understanding data stewardship in times of public health emergency (Rethinking Data programme)
  3. The boundaries of health data (emerging Health Data and Data About Health programme)

Find out more:

-> Read the Exit through the App Store? rapid evidence review

-> Read the update to the review Provisos for a Contact Tracing App (250KB colour PDF)

-> From our blog: Exit through the App Store? Should the UK Government use technology to transition from the COVID-19 global public health crisis

-> Contact the COVID-19 team with ‘COVID-19’ in the subject line.

-> Follow the conversation on Twitter (#COVIDTech)