The first U.S. states that released the mobile apps for tracing COVID-19 patients' contacts are dealing with technical glitches and a lack of interest by their residents. The second wave of pandemic surveillance tools is on its way, and this time with the permission of top tech players in industry i.e. Apple and Google.
The old contact tracing platform involves notifying the Salesforce users who have been affected by the virus so that they can take all the necessary precautions and self-quarantine. This is the complex process involving the collection of testing data and a call center at which calls are to be made for those tested positive and their contacts.
Salesforce isn't discussing political contact tracing engagements. Still, recently in an email, it is acknowledged that its recently released Work.com tools will be enabled both public and private sector leaders to trace health and relationship contacts manually. In a recent video, Rob Seaman, a senior vice president of product at Salesforce, said that CRM makes for active Salesforce contact tracing for public health because of how it tracks relationships.
A Salesforce Contact Tracing platform based on CRM workflows used by state governments isn't a good idea as it seems, said by Nicole France, an analyst at Constellation Research. "This is not a completely new thing, contracting with states to do this," France said. "They do a lot of work in the public sector that includes various government bodies at the federal level."
Salesforce Coronavirus Contact Tracing Platform is a pillar to control the infection from spreading. It has been conducted by trained public health workers who interview those affected by the virus. Other companies have provided database tools for manually tracing efforts. However, those also raise privacy concerns due to the need to collect and store all the relevant information about the individual's social connection, health status, etc.
Salesforce touts its Einstein AI technology at its user events and they even assign it an omnipresent mascot at Dreamforce and its regional Salesforce World Tour marketing events. The company has been careful to keep A.I. away from its contact tracing platform process discussions so far. The Salesforce tool differs from the app developed by Google and Apple to run on smartphones. These apps ask the users to download and use it on their mobile phones to check out the population who are exposed to coronavirus, Constellation's France said. Mobile phones can be fraught with privacy challenges as companies decide what data to use in tracking those individuals who are affected by a coronavirus.
It is not a coincidence that Salesforce avoids discussing A.I. with its contact tracing platform, she added. The platform for public health authorities is a repeatable, standardized process based on specific protocols. If the Salesforce is to win contracts, it needs to focus exclusively on digitizing the existing method. "A huge reason for Salesforce steering clear of A.I. is a big issue of data privacy, especially in a healthcare context," France said. "Salesforce Contact Tracing has a set of policies and procedures designed to step that line between maintaining an appropriate degree of privacy protection while addressing the critical issue of who infected with coronavirus has come in contact with."
For its part, a Salesforce spokesperson emphasized the "manual" section of the Salesforce Contact Tracing platform. The company moves into supporting public health efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. "New tools and technologies are being introduced every day to reduce the spread of COVID-19," the company said in an emailed statement. "We are focused on helping our customers implement manual contact tracing. The protection of our customer's data is our priority.
Privacy leaders and advocates said that the danger of creating new government surveillance powers for the pandemic could lead to much bigger problems in the long-run. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned the state governments to step carefully and launch strict privacy procedures before launching new technologies that are meant to detect and cur new coronavirus outbreaks.
Even the most privacy-minded tools, which are going to be released by Apple and Google, need more constraints so that they don't become instruments of surveillance or oppression. "The risks of getting it wrong are massive", said Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel in the ACLU.
ACLU's report says that the technology that tracks the location should be rejected, such as apps that track individual movements with satellite-based GPS technology and feed sensitive personal data of the users into centralized government databases.
The states such as Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota was the first to launch phone apps that will enable public health departments to track the location and connections of people affected by the coronavirus. The governors haven't had many licks getting the widespread participation needed for them to work correctly.
The state with the highest rate of participation is North Dakota, where last week, nearly 4% of people have downloaded the Care19 app and using its location services. The same app is getting less support in South Dakota. Now, North Dakota is looking at starting the other app based on the Apple-Google technology. The existing app was released to the market because of the urgent need. "We knew that it wouldn't be perfect.” They said.
In the future, the ACLU will use the Apple and Google approach, which will use Bluetooth technology that will automatically notify and warn the users about potential COVID-19 exposure without revealing anyone's data to the government.