Equity and Inclusion
In order for exposure notification apps to be successful, they need to be built and launched with equity and inclusion front of mind. This means figuring out ways in which all populations within a community can have access to the benefits of the technology and thinking deliberately about how to reach underserved communities.
Who is defined as underserved will vary from one country or jurisdiction to the next. But in general it is important to consider those who don't have access to the latest technology, whether due to age, socio-economic status, languages spoken, or concerns about privacy.
System requirements for GAEN APIs:
- Android API level 23 (Marshmallow) and higher
- Phone must have bluetooth low energy (BLE) hardware capabilities
- User must upgrade to iOS 13.5+
- iPhone 4 and newer
Part of a PHA's inclusivity efforts need to include tech education – many people may have phones that are able to run the latest operating system version, but the users do not know how to upgrade. For Android users, some of the more affordable phones may not have the ability to use BLE and so they will not be able to participate in GAEN apps.
Beyond the technical considerations, special effort needs to be made around the social aspects of equity and inclusion. This begins with identifying the communities that might be more resistant to participating in exposure notification and working to build trust with them. There are many resources available around appealing to underserved communities with public health interventions. Some of the most basic strategies include making sure the app and education are available in multiple languages and finding spokespeople for your app that come from the communities you're trying to include.
Beyond that, think through the entire user experience of the exposure notification app. Receiving a notification of potential exposure is not the end of the user journey; the person then needs to go get tested and/or isolate. Think through whether that person has access to health insurance, the space to isolate, and the ability to (potentially) take time off work to isolate. It is our jobs as the implementers of these apps to make sure we are building tech tools for all.
- Responsible Data Use Playbook for Digital Contact Tracing, Brighthive.io
- ‘Colorblind’ Tech is Killing Us: Why COVID-19 Tech Must Focus on Equity, Dr. Mary Gray, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University
- Racism in the Time of COVID-19, Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science