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WeHealth Bermuda real-time dashboard showing Delta & Omicron outbreaks
When driving a car stepping on the accelerator makes the car go faster. Stepping on the brakes makes the car slow down & stop. This happens almost instantaneously. Such tight feedback loops make it easy to understand the consequences of our actions. But when we take infectious disease outbreaks like the one we are currently in, it becomes very hard to see how actions done by individuals add up to outcomes. And this is one of the most frustrating aspects of the situation we are all living through right now.
Since 2020, our team has been hard at work enabling anonymous exposure notifications as a layer of defense in our pandemic response. Bermuda has shown leadership during this time of crisis by being an early-adopter of this solution. The solution requires opt-in to receive exposure notifications as well as to send them. This safeguards privacy and civil liberties. And the absolutely private protocol makes it impossible to know how many people get notified when someone takes the time to share their positive diagnosis anonymously. Only you know when you get an exposure notification. No one else does. Only you have the information and only you can make the choice to act, or not act on it. And on that foundation of trust, the solution facilitates altruistic behavior where small individual actions benefit the public as a whole.
But this complete privacy, backed by the Privacy Commissioner in Bermuda, comes with it's own challenge. It eliminates any feedback to the person sharing their diagnosis. They don’t know if they made any difference. Even though it works, and we are urged to use it, when we can't see it working, we don’t feel as motivated to use it and it actually impacts its utility. To address this gap, WeHealth added a way for users to choose to opt-in to sharing some anonymous information related to their app usage, including when they receive a notification. The data is never identifiable and is not associated with any identity. It only gets aggregated anonymously to provide just enough insights to restore the feedback loop that is necessary. Approximately 1 in 3 users in Bermuda have opted in to share their anonymous data and helped unlock new insights that we didn’t have before.
We just launched a live dashboard showing this complete feedback loop in real-time for Bermuda. This chart shows exactly how these notifications work end-to-end and we can even see how they compare between the Delta and the Omicron waves in Bermuda. We can see that as case counts go up, people choosing to notify other people as well as the number of people getting notified also goes up. The most fascinating thing here is that this is the activity without any feedback loop. The people who chose to notify other people did that entirely out of altruistic motivations and had no way to know if it was even going to work.
On the live dashboard there’s another view that shows the comparison between the two waves in absolute numbers. The Omicron wave still hasn’t ended so these numbers will change over the next few weeks.
We hope to add more to this over time. We invite everyone to look at the live dashboard, scrutinize the numbers, share any feedback or insights. And please install the WeHealth Bermuda app to continue to keep our communities safe!