The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is awarding the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory (UW-APL) $959,305 to bring together experts to develop digital contact tracing (DCT) application testing criteria.

“With DCT apps we recognized that there’s a need for a clear, consistent, and common set of privacy and security test criteria,” said Melissa Oh, managing director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), in a statement. “By bringing together a diverse, inclusive group of experts, our goal is to openly develop test criteria that are publicly accepted, trusted and utilized.”

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Additionally, the contract award will research and develop policy considerations for the use of DCT technology to “ensure privacy and civil liberties are protected now and in the future.”

UW-APL will be able to use its national and international networks, partnerships, and relationships to manage this process, and will “assist DHS as a secretariat in convening an open, inclusive process that brings together domain experts and publicly trusted entities to rapidly develop a clear and consistent set of efficacy, security, privacy, and usability criteria.”

According to DHS, this work will occur in conjunction with the SVIP Phase 1 award to AppCensus under the Emerging Needs: COVID-19 Response & Future Mitigation solicitation.

“While the AppCensus project is focused on adapting their infrastructure to enable DCT app testing, the focus of this expert group is to determine what needs to be tested in DCT apps and to explore the policy implications of the use of DCT technologies,” said DHS.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.