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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:

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


Our Work 14

Oct 6, 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? More

Aug 27, 2020

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

Student contribution

Main insights from the Country Spotlight Series More

BKC Medium Collection
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 More

Jul 31, 2020

Country Spotlight: Taiwan’s Digital Quarantine System

Student contribution

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

Harvard Law Today
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. More

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… More

Jul 20, 2020

Country Spotlight: Singapore’s TraceTogether Program

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains TraceTogether Program More

Jul 16, 2020

Country Spotlight: Germany’s Corona Warn-App

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains Corona Warn-App More

The New York Times
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.” More

Jul 10, 2020

Country Spotlight: Switzerland’s SwissCovid App

Student contribution

Briefing document by HLS student explains SwissCovid App More

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 More

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 More

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 More

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 More