By Alicia Asín, co-founder and CEO of Libelium
There are many debates arising around the safety versus privacy of the public with the application of technology in the prevention of coronavirus.
Applications for tracking contacts, geolocating infected people, temperature measuring equipment at the entrance of buildings and so on… Technology opens up possibilities that potentially invade personal space. Of course, this is nothing new. Just as social networks, mobile applications and even supermarket loyalty programs have been doing so for years, to give just a few examples.
When half the world was locked down or dying in hospitals, fear tipped the balance in favour of security advocates unconcerned with the loss of privacy. Any measure was good, as long as everyone was protected. But as soon as the doors open, as the phases of de-confinement progress, the guarantors of rights and freedoms will gain strength. Just as if nothing had happened and the crisis had been resolved. See the statement by the Spanish Data Protection Agency and its position against any measure that could be discriminatory. And the security arches of airports and public buildings, are they not discriminatory? They certainly are and thanks to them we are able to detect potential terrorist action and we have all accepted their necessity.
Meanwhile, in order to continue generating employment and recover the economy, companies are looking for solutions that will help them to return to their activity by “raising the blind” with maximum security and confidence with their employees and clients: socially distanced jobs, screens, masks, thermal measurement…; in short, greater prevention measures.
Of course, applying maximum protection is not going to be enough, but it will always be better than doing nothing. In the new VUCA environment, in absence of 100% reliable infection detection systems, a new “partial” safety must be provided. Because, if we do not apply any measures, no matter how partial, the confinement will have been useless as well as having generated deep social and economic repercussions.
Neither quick tests nor serological trials are available to everyone. It would not be possible for all factory staff to undergo testing every day either. And meanwhile life goes on: we go back to the streets, we socialize with friends, family, co-workers. It is unfeasible to think about a future of permanent isolation.
A new stage is opening: the stage of prevention 2.0, in which any measure that helps to reduce the risk of contagion is welcome. There will always be those who put sticks in the wheel of private initiatives under the pretext of interfering with privacy. As always, those who want to move forward should join the new normal. And those who do not, should retire to the wilderness without disturbing those of us who work for what is already a new world: now and in the future.