Data-Sharing in the Time of Coronavirus

Pandemic shines light on privacy and attitudes toward sharing personal health information for the public good.

Douglas J. Elliott, Ana Kreacic, Lorenzo Miláns del Bosch, Lisa Quest
Douglas J.
Partner, Oliver Wyman
Doug is a Partner who focuses on the intersection of public policy and finance. He meets with hundreds of senior policymakers and executives each year to explore the future of the financial sector. These conversations fuel numerous papers and speeches. He is fascinated by the role of data in transforming finance and is an evangelist for the importance of devising rules of the road for data usage that spur innovation while protecting rights and balancing other social objectives. Prior to Oliver Wyman, he was a Scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Visiting Scholar at the International Monetary Fund, and a financial institutions investment banker. He graduated from Harvard College and Duke University.
Douglas.Elliott@oliverwyman.com
Ana
Chief Operating Officer, Oliver Wyman Forum; Partner, Chief Knowledge Officer, Oliver Wyman
Ana is the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Oliver Wyman Group, the Chief Operating Officer of the Oliver Wyman Forum and a Co-leader of the New York office. She advises clients in areas of strategy, offer development, and new business start-ups. Ana’s work focuses on the opportunities, uncertainties, and challenges stemming from rapidly changing data and business landscapes. She regularly convenes senior leaders to explore these complicated issues. Ana also is passionate about education, mentoring, immigrant issues, and women’s advancement initiatives, and serves on multiple boards, including Upwardly Global and the Stamford Symphony Orchestra. She graduated from the University of Maryland and the Wharton School.
Ana.Kreacic@oliverwyman.com
Lorenzo
Partner, Oliver Wyman
Lorenzo has been a Partner with Oliver Wyman for 20 years, working in the telecommunications space. He has advised some of the world leading companies in strategy, marketing, and commercial and public policy topics. Working on numerous big data and artificial intelligence-related projects has shown Lorenzo that data could be an asset and driving force of transformation for companies. At the same time, data is at the core of numerous public policy discussions. Lorenzo wants to help find the proper and dynamic equilibrium between the potential of data to create economic value and social wealth, on the one hand, and individual rights to privacy and identity, on the other. Before joining Oliver Wyman, Lorenzo was a Director with the National Economic Research Associates. Lorenzo is an avid reader of philosophy and mathematics and an ever-learning aficionado of jazz guitar. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics and a MSc in innovation management.
Lorenzo.MilansDelBosch@oliverwyman.com
Lisa
Partner, Oliver Wyman
Lisa is a Partner and Head of Public Sector for the UK and Ireland. She advises senior government officials on a broad range of issues, including regulation and supervision, organizational design and effectiveness. She has significant experience working with data in public sector transformational change and is fascinated by the ways it can be used to predict behavior and to build previously unimaginable new infrastructure. Lisa is also an Academic Fellow with the London School of Economics Centre for Risk and Regulation, focusing on the development of technology regulation. She is an active triathlete and on the board of the Best Beginning charity. She graduated from Western University and the London School of Economics.
Lisa.Quest@oliverwyman.com

The fight against COVID-19 raises fundamental questions about personal data and privacy. What started off with traditional health information collection and tracing contacts of infected persons to mitigate the spread of the disease quickly evolved into digital location tracking in many countries. Yet even as countries from East to West have taken very different approaches to using personal data to combat the pandemic, individual data-sharing preferences are strikingly common across countries.

According to a six-nation survey conducted by the OIiver Wyman Forum, most people support sharing personal health data if it’s aimed at protecting their health and that of the wider public. They are much less interested in doing so to obtain cheaper or more convenient health care, or other goods and services. They also are less willing to share non-health information, such as mobile phone location or financial transaction data, even if it’s used to track potential contact with infected persons.

To fight the coronavirus, most people are comfortable sharing their health data with medical providers and public health authorities, but they are reluctant to provide it to other government officials, employers or app developers.

The Oliver Wyman Forum surveyed roughly 3,600 people across six countries – the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, and Singapore – and found opinions were broadly aligned on several key data issues. Large majorities of respondents in all countries, including an overwhelming 90 percent of Germans, would want their doctor to be notified if they tested positive for the coronavirus, while smaller majorities would want public health authorities to be told. Respondents would be much less comfortable sharing a positive test result with either federal or local government officials, though. And Singapore was the only country where a majority would share a positive result with their employer or school.

The survey also revealed a reluctance to share information with apps. American, British and German respondents were the least likely to say they would be comfortable sharing a positive coronavirus test with an app that disclosed the location but not identity of infected persons. Even in Singapore, where such apps are being used as part of containment efforts, support for sharing a positive test result was only 41 percent.

Asked separately whether they would be comfortable sharing the result of a coronavirus test, positive or negative, with an app, a majority of respondents in all countries said they would be if access to that information was restricted to health providers and relevant authorities. Fewer than 20 percent in every country said they would be willing to share either their identity or location with a publicly available app.

The survey also reveals that people are hungry for information about the pandemic, and cases of infection near them, even if they have concerns about sharing their own data. Large majorities in all countries said they would want to be notified if someone in their immediate neighborhood tested positive, ranging from 69 percent in Germany to 82 percent in Singapore. Sizable majorities would also want to know if someone at their place of employment or school tested positive.

As for broader data on health status, such as information from doctor visits, a majority of respondents in all countries would be comfortable sharing that for the purpose of public health monitoring. But other forms of data sharing received much less support. The highest was for location data from mobile telephones. Half of Singaporeans and 47 percent of Spaniards would be comfortable sharing that information to trace potential contact with infected persons, but other countries produced much lower percentages. And fewer than one respondent in four in every country was comfortable sharing financial transaction data to trace potential contact with infected persons.

China and South Korea, which have sharply reduced the rate of infection, have used such mobile location tracking in their containment efforts. Mobile phone companies in Germany, Italy and Austria are sharing anonymized mobile location data with authorities and app developers to see if people are complying with social distancing measures, and US officials have held talks with technology companies about using such location data to monitor social distancing as well as the spread of the disease.

Economic and Health Concerns Are Widespread

It’s too early to tell if the crisis will change opinions about data-sharing, but one thing is clear: worry is pervasive. The overwhelming majority of respondents were concerned or extremely concerned about the health risks that the pandemic poses to their family or community, as well as the economic impact of the crisis. Those levels of concern were slightly greater than fears about their own personal health.

Thirteen percent of Spanish respondents said they had lost their job because of the pandemic, compared with 10 percent of Americans, 7 percent of the British and 4 percent of Germans. Greater numbers said they have had their pay or hours cut, ranging from 12 percent in the US and UK to 16 percent in Singapore. That economic toll seems almost certain to rise. Initial claims for US unemployment insurance surged by a record of more than 3 million in the week ended March 21, the first period to reflect widespread shutdowns because of the pandemic.

The online survey, conducted from March 21 to March 27, sampled the opinions of 1,000 Americans and a little over 500 people each in the UK, Germany, Spain, Australia and Singapore, balanced by age and gender to reflect the wider population. 

Douglas J. Elliott

Partner, Oliver Wyman

Doug is a Partner who focuses on the intersection of public policy and finance. He meets with hundreds of senior policymakers and executives each year to explore the future of the financial sector. These conversations fuel numerous papers and speeches. He is fascinated by the role of data in transforming finance and is an evangelist for the importance of devising rules of the road for data usage that spur innovation while protecting rights and balancing other social objectives. Prior to Oliver Wyman, he was a Scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Visiting Scholar at the International Monetary Fund, and a financial institutions investment banker. He graduated from Harvard College and Duke University.

Ana Kreacic

Chief Operating Officer, Oliver Wyman Forum; Partner, Chief Knowledge Officer, Oliver Wyman

Ana is the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Oliver Wyman Group, the Chief Operating Officer of the Oliver Wyman Forum and a Co-leader of the New York office. She advises clients in areas of strategy, offer development, and new business start-ups. Ana’s work focuses on the opportunities, uncertainties, and challenges stemming from rapidly changing data and business landscapes. She regularly convenes senior leaders to explore these complicated issues. Ana also is passionate about education, mentoring, immigrant issues, and women’s advancement initiatives, and serves on multiple boards, including Upwardly Global and the Stamford Symphony Orchestra. She graduated from the University of Maryland and the Wharton School.

Lorenzo Miláns del Bosch

Partner, Oliver Wyman

Lorenzo has been a Partner with Oliver Wyman for 20 years, working in the telecommunications space. He has advised some of the world leading companies in strategy, marketing, and commercial and public policy topics. Working on numerous big data and artificial intelligence-related projects has shown Lorenzo that data could be an asset and driving force of transformation for companies. At the same time, data is at the core of numerous public policy discussions. Lorenzo wants to help find the proper and dynamic equilibrium between the potential of data to create economic value and social wealth, on the one hand, and individual rights to privacy and identity, on the other. Before joining Oliver Wyman, Lorenzo was a Director with the National Economic Research Associates. Lorenzo is an avid reader of philosophy and mathematics and an ever-learning aficionado of jazz guitar. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics and a MSc in innovation management.

Lisa Quest

Partner, Oliver Wyman

Lisa is a Partner and Head of Public Sector for the UK and Ireland. She advises senior government officials on a broad range of issues, including regulation and supervision, organizational design and effectiveness. She has significant experience working with data in public sector transformational change and is fascinated by the ways it can be used to predict behavior and to build previously unimaginable new infrastructure. Lisa is also an Academic Fellow with the London School of Economics Centre for Risk and Regulation, focusing on the development of technology regulation. She is an active triathlete and on the board of the Best Beginning charity. She graduated from Western University and the London School of Economics.