The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted how we all live, work and interact with core services, including particularly healthcare, as the ‘frontline’ in the pandemic response.
And there has been a paradigm shift in technology adoption during the pandemic. The public has increased their use of technology,1 as emergency measures have forced society and the economy to become more reliant on, and mediated by digital technologies and data infrastructures. Accelerated change has been enabled by the widespread adoption and use of data-driven technologies – what is described as a ‘digital surge’.2
These changes must be understood in the context that the pandemic has not impacted on people equally, as COVID-19 has also contributed to worsening inequalities. The evidence base increasingly demonstrates that some people and groups have been ‘left behind’ with health and social inequalities exacerbated.3
As part of a partnership with the Health Foundation exploring how the accelerated adoption of data-driven technologies and systems during the pandemic may have affected inequalities, the Ada Lovelace Institute commissioned Survation to conduct a telephone-based, nationally representative survey of 2,023 UK British adults, to explore public attitudes towards a range of technologies deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic for health outcomes, including mental and physical-health apps, symptom-tracking apps, digital contact-tracing apps and vaccine passports.
This report summarises the findings of the survey, conducted between 27 January and 24 February 2021.
You can read more about the research methods in the full report.
We have also published the quantitative data that underpins this report on GitHub.
The data divide
The text of the report is split across the various articles linked below. Readers can browse in any order. To download the full report as a PDF, use the button below.
A significant proportion of the UK public lacks adequate access to data infrastructures, such as broadband, connectivity and smartphones, survey finds
A large proportion of the UK public lacks awareness of the existence of certain COVID-19 technologies, survey finds
Differences in public attitudes between those who have chosen to use COVID-19 technologies, and those who have chosen not to
Belief in accuracy and effectiveness strongly correlated with why people chose (or chose not) to use COVID-19 technologies, survey finds
Findings from a nationally representative survey on public attitudes towards a range of COVID-19 technologies, including vaccine passports
- GOV.UK. (2021). COVID-19 repository and public attitudes retrospective. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications/covid-19-repository-and-public-attitudes-retrospective [Accessed 19 Mar. 2021].
- De’, R., Pandey, N. and Pal, A. (2020). ‘Impact of digital surge during Covid-19 pandemic: A viewpoint on research and practice.’ International Journal of Information Management, [online] 55, p.102171. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC7280123/ [Accessed 19 Mar. 2021].
- Leslie, D., Mazumder, A., Peppin, A., Wolters, M.K. and Hagerty, A. (2021). ‘Does “AI” stand for augmenting inequality in the era of covid-19 healthcare?’ BMJ, [online] 372, p.n304. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n304.
Report with recommendations and findings of a public deliberation on biometrics technology, policy and governance
Findings from a rapid expert deliberation to consider the risks and benefits of the potential roll-out of digital vaccine passports
Requirements that governments and developers will need to deliver in order for any vaccine passport system to deliver societal benefit
Examining how the commitment to responsible data in the UK's National Data Strategy could be realised and what it misses