Contact Tracing Apps: lessons learned: privacy, autonomy, and the need for detailed and thoughtful implementation (Preprint)
JMIR Medical Informatics
The global and national response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been inadequate due to a collective lack of preparation and a shortage of available tools for responding to a large-scale pandemic. By applying lessons learned to create better preventative methods and speedier interventions, the harm of a future pandemic may be dramatically reduced. One potential measure is the widespread use of contact tracing apps. While such apps were designed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the time scale in
... ch these apps were deployed proved a significant barrier to efficacy. Many companies and governments sprinted to the deployment of contact tracing apps which were not properly vetted for performance, privacy, or security issues. The hasty development of incomplete contact tracing apps undermined public trust and negatively influenced perceptions of application efficacy. As a result, many of these applications had poor voluntary public uptake, which greatly decreased the applications' efficacy. Now, with lessons learned from this pandemic, groups can better design and test applications in preparation for the future. In this review, we outline common strategies employed for contact tracing apps, detail the successes and shortcomings of several prominent apps, and describe lessons learned that may be used to shape effective contact tracing apps for the present and future. Future app designers can keep these lessons in mind to create a version that is suitable for their local culture, especially with regard to local attitudes towards privacy-utility tradeoffs during public health crises.