COVID-19 update and press conference – February 4, 2021. (PMO)

The data being collected by student volunteers in “Operation Seek and Save” will be protected.

Head of the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Dion Greenidge, gave this assurance yesterday, during a COVID-19 update and press conference.

Stressing that every precaution had been taken to ensure the security of the data being collected, Dr. Greenidge stated: “The data comes in real-time or almost real-time, and that comes through a secure server; only persons who have access credentials can access that server.”  

In addition, Dr. Greenidge shared that the cell phones being used to collect the data were not the personal property of the student volunteers, and calls could not be made on those phones. 

He said once the volunteer had completed the survey and it was uploaded, “it comes to the server; they can’t go back and look at that information”.

To further assure the public of the secure process of the data collection, Dr. Greenidge highlighted that persons would not be asked to submit their names; one member of the household would be interacting on the outside with the volunteer in order to complete the survey, and a technological process of geotagging is being used to identify households.

He explained that geotagging is similar to sending a location pin using a mobile device.  “It’s similar to that … in terms of geotagging … so, we come to a location and we’re pinning that location.”

According to Dr. Greenidge, the aggregated data collected in the “Seek and Save” initiative would be used for both COVID-19 and dengue purposes, so as to “help us to identify the risk factors, those persons at risk, those areas at risk, and to be able to make what I would say affective intervention and decisions”.

Head of the COVID-19 Communications Unit, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, shared that all student volunteers and persons participating in the “seek and save” exercise had signed confidentiality agreements, and the 360 cell phones being used to conduct the survey were provided by Digicel.

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