Dr. Lauren Gardner, Creator of Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 Dashboard, and UC Berkeley Data Analytics Researcher Dr. Katherine Yelick to Keynote FPF Conference on Privacy & Pandemics


Workshop Explores the Value and Limits of Data and Technology in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, the Future of Privacy Forum announced a pair of distinguished professors and researchers will be the keynote speakers for a two-day virtual workshop exploring the value and limits of data and technology in the context of a global crisis. The workshop, “Privacy & Pandemics: Responsible Uses of Technology and Health Data During Times of Crisis – An International Tech and Data Conference,” convened by FPF with the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, Dublin City University, and Intel Corporation, will take place virtually from 10:00AM to 2:00PM EST on October 27th and 28th.

Dr. Lauren Gardner, whose team at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) is responsible for aggregating the most comprehensive publicly available data set on the coronavirus pandemic will deliver the day one keynote.

“We’re living through a moment when the stakes for the technology and data protection community are high because lives depend on the responsible use of public health data,” said FPF CEO Jules Polonetsky. “Dr. Gardner has been making high-stakes decisions to balance privacy and access to data throughout the pandemic. Privacy practitioners and public health officials can learn a lot from her experience with the COVID-19 Dashboard.”

The keynote speaker on day two of the workshop will be Dr. Katherine Yelick, the Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the Associate Dean for Research in the Division of Computing, Data Science and Society at UC Berkeley. She is also the Senior Advisor on Computing at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and leads the ExaBiome project on scalable tools for analyzing microbial data. Dr. Yelick will address address the challenges of COVID data analytics, specifically the many different types of data involved, the numerous barriers to access of that data, the variable quality of COVID data, and the challenges to fast and accurate analysis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated issues of data access and responsible data use, including respect for privacy, as it relates to epidemiology and public health surveillance,” said Dr. Sara Jordan, FPF Policy Counsel, Artificial Intelligence and Ethics. “Dr. Yelick offers a thoughtful analysis of the unique challenges of the COVID-19 response related to data access, sharing, protection, and use.”

Participants in the workshop include international leaders from academia and industry. The workshop begins with a session focused on the challenges associated with the urgent efforts to assemble, collect, manage, and transfer volumes of data from a variety of disparate sources to track the spread of COVID-19. The second session will assess the proliferation of technologies to facilitate contact tracing, exposure notification, thermal scanning, and isolation following an infection, attempting to balance the epidemiological benefits of these technologies against the privacy concerns they raise.

On day two of the workshop, the third session will feature experts discussing what we can learn from this pandemic for the future of law, regulatory authority, and social norms. The workshop will conclude with a session that considers the future direction of privacy law, technology, and research when interfacing with the scientific community. Following the workshop, a report will be prepared and used by the National Science Foundation to help set the direction for its Convergence Accelerator 2021 Workshops, speeding the transition of convergence research into practice to address grand challenges of national importance.

The event will take place from October 27th and 28th and is hosted in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, SFI ADAPT Research Centre, Dublin City University, Intel Corporation, OneTrust, and the Israel Tech Policy Institute. To register and learn more about the event, go to the FPF website.