Two human faces look in opposite directions against a backdrop of
abstract pink and blue shapes and concentric circles

Technologies of Hope: 100 Responses to the Pandemic

Hundreds of data-driven technologies have been developed or adapted in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Technologies of Hope project looks at a curated selection of 100 such technologies, ostensibly designed to observe, sense, mitigate or modify the behaviour of the coronavirus and its (potential) carriers. Some of these products are new, whilst others reapply existing technology for new purposes; some operate at a planetary scale, others at the level of a single individual. Yet all of them raise the question: do these techno-solutions succeed in controlling the virus – or only controlling the host?

This interactive research project presents each of the ‘100 Responses to the Pandemic’, as well as the companies behind them, to show what types of information they gather and use. The project divides these technologies into four main categories: observing, sensing, mitigating and modifying. They represent only a cross-section of the hundreds researched by Tactical Tech, both familiar and unfamiliar, from fertility tracking to cough detection, from heat-detecting drones to quarantine bracelets. Technologies of Hope breaks new ground by going far beyond the perspectives of surveillance and privacy to consider the visual narratives and justifications used by these companies, and thus the ‘new normal’ to which they explicitly or implicitly aspire.

Start exploring them here!

As well as presenting selected pandemic products, Technologies of Hope also looks at the broader themes and dilemmas created by the rapid explosion of pandemic technology into almost all aspects of our lives. What are the consequences of normalising the behavioural and biometric intelligence industry? What are the implications of the pandemic pivot, where technology is repackaged for very different purposes than those for which it was originally designed? And where is the line between public good and private interest, between safety and surveillance, between hope and fear? You can read the full analysis here.

Ultimately this data set offers, for the first time, the opportunity to explore the narratives, visions and worldviews of pandemic products and the companies behind them – but also of their clients, from governments to corporations to other institutions, and thus the future which they espouse.

Related content

Call for Partners: Data & Politics

Tactical Tech is seeking international partners to co-develop public engagement materials on the topic of how political groups use technology and personal data to influence political opinion, election turnout and democratic processes - apply by 16th June!

Campaign Apps Ghana 2020

How was a mobile phone shop in Vietnam able to access personal data from voters in Ghana? The third part of our Data & Politics series on Medium looks at campaign apps in the 2020 Ghanaian election.

Why Investigate Election Apps?

The second in this series of articles on Medium from our Data & Politics project looks at how the 'appification' of nearly every aspect of our lives has spread to politics, elections and issue campaigning.

Transparency in Data-Driven Campaigns

Tactical Tech’s Data & Politics Team is excited to announce that the Swedish Postcode Foundation will support our latest initiative to create transparency on the use of personal data in political campaigns and the surrounding influence industry.

Reflections on the European Democracy Action Plan

If Europe’s elections are to remain contests of campaigns’ political ideas and not of their digital strategies, the systemic challenges to democracy must not be overlooked by the fires of the present moment. Varoon Bashyakarla from our Data & Politics team writes for the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

Data & Politics: Global Partnerships

In order to investigate the 'Influence Industry' in different contexts and countries, our Data & Politics project has partnered with a diverse range of organisations and individuals in the Global South. Find out more about the work these partners do.

A Voter's Guide: 7 Tips to Detox Your Data

Our Voter’s Guide explains how personal data is collected and used by political parties and candidates – and what voters can do about it. The seven tips are now available in both English and Dutch.

→︎ Read more

Your Data, Our Democracy

As elections become increasingly data-intensive, our personal data is becoming a political asset for campaigns to leverage. This new animation, in English and Dutch, explains how this process happens - and what we can do about it.

→︎ Read more

Ad.Watch - Investigating Political Ads on Facebook

From Exposing the Invisible - The Kit: Two investigators trace their process of creating the project ad.watch, an open-research-style investigation into political advertising on Facebook. This case study follows the project’s evolution from a limited endeavour to a growing resource that facilitates investigations on political ads around the world.

As The World Goes Online, Politics is There to Meet Us

As the world goes online amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is no surprise that politics is moving online too. Tactical Tech’s Data and Politics Team have identified five digital campaigning trends that we’re likely to see more of in the coming weeks and months.

→︎ Read more