So the cat is finally out of the bag: during some hectic days we have been helping Simula create an app for the Norwegian Institute for Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet/FHI) to reduce the time required to track the spread of the Coronavirus in Norway. This app could increase the speed in tracking the spread of the virus as well as actually reducing the spread when it's released.
In crises things become extreme. Not just the spread of the virus, but also the growth in video conferencing and other things in society see explosive growth. In the same manner, the tradeoffs between privacy and public interest become extreme through apps like this one. This time we are not discussing the tradeoffs between personal data and commercial interests. Balancing public safety and privacy should not be a question of either/or; we need to balance the two. Both the Norwegian health authorities and the Norwegian Data Protection Authority have been closely involved in the process of creating the app. And the same balance has been priority number one for our colleagues in the project.
Shortcut has had a team of people assisting Simula in designing, building and testing the app, and our team has worked day and night to tackle the challenges that arise. I love all the apps we have helped build over the years, but I doubt there will ever be a more important project for us than this one. We have often said that apps fall into one of two categories: time savers and time killers.
This time, we are building a potential life saver.