Data and Privacy During a Global Pandemic Conference

Friday, December 4, 2020 8:30 am - 4:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

What needs to be done in order to curb the spread of Covid-19: Contact tracing, legal considerations, and statistical modeling

Organized by the Master of Public Service Policy & Data Lab and GEDI and sponsored by the Waterloo Cybersecurity & Privacy Institute, this virtual conference brings together experts from the social and physical sciences, computer science and engineering, statistics, and law to help frame policy recommendations for a variety of societal issues that have emerged with COVID-19.

There are three broad themes:

  1. downloads of the Federal Government exposure notification app have been extremely low, mitigating its usefulness. What can be done legally and from a behavioural lens in order to increase the use of exposure notification apps
  2. the lack of disaggregated COVID-19 data across the country has impaired the ability of researchers to conduct relevant and important research. What do governments need to do to ensure better data availability and what are novel data sources that can be studied by researchers
  3. the use of statistical models in predicting the incidence and burden of COVID-19


Conference at a glance

Please visit the registration page for speaker profiles.

8:30 am Opening remarks and welcome by Dr. Vivek Goel, Incoming President, University of Waterloo,  current Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives for University of Toronto, and Scientific Advisor for CanCOVID
8:45 -10:05 Statistical Modeling with Q & A
  • Jeff Chan (Wilfrid Laurier University), How Social Media and Cellphone Data Can be Used to Track Mobility During Pandemics 
  • Mark Crowley (University of Waterloo), Prediction and Causality: How Can Machine Learning be Used for COVID-19?  
  • Ashley Tuite (University of Toronto), How Epidemiological Models (Even Wrong Ones) Can be Useful for Identifying Critical Data Gaps
10:15-11:35 Exposure Notification Apps with Q & A
  • Colleen Flood (University of Ottawa), What Powers Does the Federal Government Have to Require Exposure Notification Apps for COVID-19?  
  • Igor Grossmann (University of Waterloo), Using Behavioural Psychology to Understand How Exposure Notification Apps Can Be Successful  
  • Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher (University of Waterloo), Communicating about Health and Safety Benefits and Privacy Risks in COVID-19 Exposure Notification Tracking Apps  
11:45 -1:25  Data and Privacy Concerns with Q & A
  • Michael Wolfson (University of Ottawa), How Data Availability from Government has Impeded COVID-19 Research & the ‘Chilling’ Effects of Privacy Concerns  
  • Plinio Morita (University of Waterloo), How to Design Better COVID-19 Exposure Notification Apps  
  • Anindya Sen (University of Waterloo), A Cost Benefit Analysis Approach to Accommodating Privacy Concerns in Data Collection & How Canada Compares to Other Jurisdictions  
2:30 - 4:00 Fireside chat
  • conducted by Bessma Momani, Professor of Political Science and Senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI)
  • Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Sofia Scichilone, Acting Director, Government Advisory Directorate, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • Michael Hilmer, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Capacity Planning and Analytics Division of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
  • Paul Halucha, Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office (PCO) of Canada