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Past Project

BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response

Digital Pandemic Response (BKC PP: DPR) is an interdisciplinary program that works with public and private decision makers on urgent questions and policy decisions around the use of digital tools and data in order to help attenuate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Committed to supporting policymakers in the private and public sectors who face difficult challenges when developing and deploying digital tools in response to the current health crisis, the Digital Pandemic Response policy practice takes on specific implementation questions and works with participants on pragmatic approaches while advancing the public interest. The policy practice creates a space for learning and capacity-building in which participating organizations can work with small, agile teams, composed of faculty, staff, students, and outside expert collaborators, to identify key problems and create actionable outputs. Outputs range from policy frameworks to open educational resources and are developed with an eye towards inclusion, replicability, and broad usefulness. 

Currently the team focuses on implementations of digital contact tracing within the United States, and also engages with other forms of digital pandemic response that raise questions related to privacy, security, and autonomy, and include international perspectives. The policy practice’s agenda is flexible and evolving, informed by the needs and interests of participating organizations.

This program includes an expert discussion group, the Digital Pandemic Response Working Group, co-chaired by Margaret Bourdeaux of the Harvard Medical School’s Global Public Policy and Social Change program and Urs Gasser and Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Klein Center.  

To contact the Digital Pandemic Response team please email: dpr@cyber.harvard.edu


The program is generously supported by the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. 

 


Our Work 26

May 19, 2021

Planning for the Next Pandemic

A Global, Interoperable System of Contact Tracing

John Palfrey and Urs Gasser argue that COVID-19 testing and tracing systems need to work within and across geographic and political boundaries.

Mar 31, 2021

Reopening Schools: A Primer for State and Local Leaders

A policy memo outlining two key strategies for state and local leaders looking to more safely reopen their schools: enhancing school air quality and implementing robust screening…

Mar 18, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Reopening Schools: How States Can Ensure Safe Buildings, Testing Capacity, and Contact Tracing Programs for Students and Staff

Video & Podcast: A Seminar for State & Local Leaders

Video & Podcast: A Seminar for State & Local Leaders

Mar 4, 2021

Organizing, Budgeting, and Implementing Wraparound Services for People in Quarantine and Isolation

A policy memo summarizing key arguments in favor of wraparound-supported quarantine and isolation programs.

News
Feb 25, 2021

Surveillance and the ‘New Normal’ of Covid-19: Public Health, Data, and Justice

BKC community members share insights as part of SSRC Public Health, Surveillance, & Human Rights Network.

SSRC report shares strategies for building a more responsible social infrastructure. 

Feb 23, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Organizing, Budgeting, and Implementing Wraparound Services for People in Quarantine and Isolation

Video & Podcast: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Considerations for Future State Responses

Video & Podcast: Join Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux, Dr. Linda Bilmes, and Dr. Syra Madad for a session exploring the economic costs of supported isolation during the pandemic for state…

Feb 17, 2021 @ 2:00 PM

Covid State of Play: Vaccines and Variants

Domestic and Global Problems

Join Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux, Professor Jonathan Zittrain and Dr. Vanessa Kerry as they discuss vaccine roll-out and the impact of new COVID strains from both a domestic and global…

Jan 12, 2021 @ 2:00 PM

Covid State of Play: 2021 Outlook and Vaccine Disinformation

Video & Podcast: Featuring Jonathan Zittrain, Margaret Bourdeaux, and Renée DiResta

Video & Podcast: Reflecting on 2020, the year ahead, and vaccine disinformation that has been proliferating online

Dec 15, 2020 @ 2:30 PM

Covid State of Play: Building a Public Sector Health Intelligence Capability

Video & Podcast: Investigating how public health officials can collect and utilize large amounts of data responsibly

Video & Podcast: Investigating how public health officials can collect and utilize vast sums of data responsibly

Dec 1, 2020 @ 2:00 PM

Covid State of Play: Covid, Racism, and Environmental Justice

Video & Podcast: How environmental injustice and racism have contributed to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic

Video & Podcast: How environmental injustice and racism have contributed to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic

Nov 24, 2020

Retrospective Contact Tracing: A Primer For State And Territorial Health Authorities

This policy memo details key features of retrospective contact tracing and lays out five recommendations for state and local public health authorities who are seeking to deploy…

Nov 12, 2020 @ 9:30 AM

Retrospective Contact Tracing: How States Can Investigate Covid-19 Clusters

Video & Podcast: A conversation with experts on how US states can implement retrospective contact tracing

Video & Podcast: A session exploring how US state and local public health leaders can implement retrospective contact tracing to identify Covid-19 clusters and mitigate their…

Oct 5, 2020 @ 2:00 PM

Covid State of Play: Authoritarian Politics & COVID-19

Video & Podcast: How Should U.S. public health officials lead in this political moment?

Video & Podcast: How Should U.S. public health officials lead in this political moment?

News
Aug 27, 2020

Global Digital Pandemic Responses: Some Reflections on Four Country Case Studies

Student contribution

Main insights from the Country Spotlight Series

News
Aug 21, 2020

“No simple answer”

“Covid State of Play” examines sick buildings, planning lags, and reopening

Talk covers COVID-19 and the need for creative, and swift, solutions

News
Jul 31, 2020

Country Spotlight: Taiwan’s Digital Quarantine System

Student contribution

Briefing document from HLS students explains Taiwan’s Digital Quarantine System

News
Jul 30, 2020

‘Feeding the virus’?

At a Berkman Klein Center event, experts rate U.S. response and outline steps necessary to defeat the virus

Talk assesses the U.S. response to COVID-19 and outlines steps necessary to defeat the virus.

News
Jul 28, 2020

BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response provides practical guidance, expert opinion for decision makers

Informing the use of digital tools and data for COVID-19

Public and private policymakers are collaborating with the new BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response program to work through difficult questions about using digital tools…

News
Jul 20, 2020

Country Spotlight: Singapore’s TraceTogether Program

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains TraceTogether Program

News
Jul 16, 2020

Country Spotlight: Germany’s Corona Warn-App

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains Corona Warn-App

News
Jul 16, 2020

Testing Is on the Brink of Paralysis. That’s Very Bad News.

Jonathan Zittrain, Margaret Bourdeaux, and Beth Cameron call on governors to unite

“Our pandemic fight requires prompt testing results — and singular cooperation among the states to achieve them.”

News
Jul 10, 2020

Country Spotlight: Switzerland’s SwissCovid App

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains SwissCovid App

Jul 8, 2020

Digital Contact Tracing: A Primer

How Data Can Support Contact Tracing, Explained by BKC's Jonathan Zittrain

Tech Solutions to Contact Tracing Explained by BKC’s Jonathan Zittrain

Jun 25, 2020

Digital Contact Tracing: Perspectives on approaches to COVID-19

Members of Digital Pandemic Response Working Group share their ideas

Essay series captures some of the current thinking about contact tracing and COVID-19

News
Jun 8, 2020

HLS Students Examine Digital Responses to COVID-19

Harvard Law School Students Develop Reports on Anti-COVID Tech

Harvard students pivot from Governing Digital Technology with reports on the pandemic

News
Mar 24, 2020

Aggregated mobility data can help fight COVID-19 - safeguards needed

A Letter from Health Researchers and BKC’s Urs Gasser

A Letter from Health Researchers and BKC’s Urs Gasser


Community 08

CNN

Zeynep Tufekci on why everyone should stop 'doomscrolling'

Zeynep Tufekci on why everyone should stop 'doomscrolling'

Feb 7, 2021
Letter and Politics

The Coronavirus Variants and The Vaccine: A Race Between Team Covid and Team Human

Margaret Bourdeaux joins Letters and Politics talk show to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine

Feb 1, 2021
BKC Medium Collection

What Digital Contact Tracing Can Teach Us About Public Trust, Health Equity, and Governance in the United States

Adam Nagy and Hilary Ross share reflections on public trust, equity, and governance from the Digital Pandemic Response Working Group

Oct 29, 2020
GovTech

MacArthur Foundation Invests $1.6M in Equitable COVID Tech

Urs Gasser discusses the BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response

Sep 9, 2020
The Harvard Crimson

Harvard to Track Affiliates’ Wi-Fi Signals as Part of Contact Tracing Pilot

Asaf Lubin discusses the Tracefi contact tracing system with The Harvard Crimson.

Aug 2, 2020
Vanity Fair

How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

Margaret Bourdeaux speaks with Vanity Fair about the U.S. COVID testing system

Jul 30, 2020
Scientific American

Contact Tracing, a Key Way to Slow COVID-19, Is Badly Underused by the U.S.

Mary Gray speaks with Scientific American

Jul 22, 2020