Leading Tech Firms to Build COVID-19 Data Platform for British Health Service

The platform is to provide national organizations with secure, reliable and timely data on the coronavirus epidemic in a way that protects citizen privacy. Technology partners including Google, Palantir and Microsoft will be subject to strict rules for information governance.

 

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Microsoft, Palantir and Google are to build a data platform to collect data for the UK National Health Service so officials can make better decisions on those at risk from COVID-19, where to increase resources and where to deploy staff, among others.

The UK Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the involvement of the companies, emphasizing that all the data will be anonymous and subject to strict controls.

"To execute a coordinated and effective Covid-19 response, the Government has commissioned NHS England and Improvement and NHSX to develop a data platform that will provide those national organisations responsible for coordinating the response with secure, reliable and timely data - in a way that protects the privacy of our citizens - in order to make informed, effective decisions," the department said on its blog.

Palantir Technologies UK will provide the front end software, Palantir Foundry, which enables data to be integrated, cleaned, and harmonized; Google is to help with collection of aggregated operational data, Microsoft will build the platform's backend on its Azure cloud platform to bring data into a single, secure location, according to the department.

It emphasized that the technology partners will be subject to strict rules for information governance.

The dashboards are expected to provide a real-time metrics for understanding and tracking the crisis and the healthcare system's capacity to deal with it.

"Using the dashboards, decision-makers will be able to understand how the virus is spreading at a local level and identify risks to particularly vulnerable populations; Proactively increase health and care resources in emerging hot spots; Ensure critical equipment is supplied to the facilities with greatest need; and divert patients/service users to the facilities that are best able to care for them based on demand, resources, and staffing capacity," the department said.

It added that the data will be destroyed or returned once the public health emergency situation has ended.

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