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Designing Better Contact-Tracing Apps for the Next Pandemic

Protecting privacy and building trust, as well as improving the technology, will be key to success, Tufts cybersecurity expert says

As COVID-19 began to spread last spring, apps were developed to track cellphone signals and other data so people who had been near those who were infected could be notified and asked to quarantine. The novel coronavirus rapidly outpaced such efforts, becoming so widespread that tracing individual exposures could not contain it.

But the issues raised by digital contact tracing—about privacy, effectiveness, and equity—still need to be addressed, says Tufts cybersecurity expert Susan Landau. That’s because a future public health crisis is likely to inspire calls to collect such information once again.

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