Like the adage, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, we could not have imagined the launch of Boundree under such uncertain times. For over a year, we have been planning, re-planning, and planning again.
The rollout of a consultancy focusing on information privacy and ethical innovation came to a screeching halt in early March. COVID-19 has impacted all of us. Human lives are being lost. Healthcare systems are fracturing. Small businesses are shutting their doors. Financial markets are wiping out significant wealth.
So, why plunge into the world of owning a small business right now? We contemplated waiting for normalcy to return and then launch. However, this circumstance embodies why balancing privacy and analytic benefit is important. Healthcare privacy is needed so that patients are forthcoming about their health. Ensuring privacy assists in people coming forward. On the other hand, traceability and trackability help mitigate further spread. Panicked citizens may willingly share daily routines and location information to improve overall welfare. History tells us that at times of crisis, encroachments on privacy can become the norm.
We believe there are eloquent ways to ensure patient privacy, so no one feels like an outcast or pariah, yet still share the requisite information needed to help stop the spread of a pandemic virus. Attention to de-identification and data classification can help. Building privacy awareness within your organization is also warranted. For example, care needs to be taken on how announcements about the spread are handled. Does a report stating a male employee of company x, working in building y, who has not been at work since a certain date due to illness identify who that person is? More importantly, does someone who hears this news elect to not provide details on their symptoms in fear they may be outed and ostracized?
In the long-term, our intentions have not waivered. We will be rolling out a consultancy focusing on information privacy and ethical innovation. However, in the short-term, Boundree’s focus will be on the balancing act of analytics necessary to improve community health and privacy needed to protect impacted people. Several initiatives are underway, but we believe coordination and collaboration are keys to success. Please reach out to us if you have ideas on how the technical community can come together and make a tangible difference.