What Happened to Digital Contact Tracing’s Summer of Potential?

I Saw the Challenges of Harnessing Digital Data for Public Health up Close During the Pandemic

In the summer of 2020, when most countries were cherishing the quiet before the second peak in COVID-19 cases, the non-profit I was volunteering at was bustling with activity. It had developed an open-source digital contact tracing system—one of those smartphone apps that tracks one’s whereabouts and sends notifications if the user had been exposed to COVID-19.

“Do you want to join one of our meetings?” was the offer of a volunteer I met at a (virtual) university event. He knew I was researching public use of highly contentious technology. I …