Using Big Data to Track Covid-19

BBVA is one of the largest banks in the world and is based in Spain. Recently the bank conducted a study using big data technology to track the impact of Covid-19 on Spanish consumption. The study revealed a 49% decline in consumer spending.The data showed a drop of greater than 90% in non-essential consumer spending, while spending on food increased by 20% as people stocked up for the lockdown, and skyrocketed by 95% before the Easter holiday.

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The Privacy Challenge of COVID-19 

While COVID-19 has forced many workers to work from home, many companies are struggling to establish adequate security over their IT activities. For them, old established security and it Governance plans badly need to be updated to address the additional security risks implicit in workers using home systems for Internet access. Some companies are ahead of the pack because they already had encouraged their people to work at home and had established procedures to deal with that. But many are struggling to catch up.

There's an issue of scale. Prior to the pandemic, some workers were able to move to a home environment in an orderly way. In most companies their numbers were not huge. It's very different now, where all workers must either work at home or be laid off. Establishing the necessary security and governance policies becomes an urgent matter. 

This urgency is leading to a major conflict between security and privacy rights - to an increased possibility that the privacy rights of individuals might be sacrificed. A good example is the renewed interest in using cell phones to track individual movements. Governments are interested in such tracking in order to monitor movements that might be affecting the spread of the virus. Google and Apple are working on a method to do the tracking without naming the individuals. Tracking for the purpose of controlling the spread of the virus might be acceptable to most people. Less acceptable would be the idea of companies using tracking to satisfy their own security and governance policies. But it could become a reality.

CPA Founding Partner

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world, has chosen to become a founding partner of ThinkTwenty20.