From sam

It seems that Serci and G4S are in the frame. This is from The Times 3 days ago.

“The contact tracing system crucial to hopes of easing lockdown will be outsourced to private call centre operators including Serco, The Times has learnt.

The bulk of contact tracing work will be contracted out to at least two companies who are being asked to provide about 15,000 call centre staff.

They will be given about a day of training in the principles of and a script to handle conversations with people who have been at close quarters with confirmed cases.”

The rest of the article requires subscription.

Then this from the Morning Star, taking its lead from The Times and expanding on it.

Last year, Serco was fined nearly £23 million as part of a settlement with the Serious Fraud Office over an electronic tagging contract with the Ministry of Justice. Both Serco and G4S were accused of charging the government for electronically monitoring people who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.

Serco has also been embroiled in a number of other scandals, including falsifying NHS records to meet targets at a Cornwall out-of-hours GP surgery.

Campaign group We Own It director Cat Hobbs said that it was “beyond belief” that the firms were in line for the contracts.

“Whether it is falsifying NHS data or staffing breast-cancer screening hotlines with staff who’ve only had an hour’s training, Serco’s track record shows that it is utterly unfit to play any role in our NHS.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also criticised the plans, arguing that the public will not want to see the system “in the hands of private companies seeking to make a profit.”

Slugger O’Toole has a piece about the respective effectiveness of the UK tracing app and the Irish tracing app. You may have guessed already that the Irish tracing app is much more effective and that NI should use the Irish app rather than the UK one.

“Therefore, phones using the UK government app will generally only be able to transmit to other phones if they are unlocked and the app is being used, whilst apps using the decentralised approach such as the Irish government app will be able to register contacts with other users even if both phones are locked or the app is in the background….

….The proposed UK system will rely heavily on many people installing the app on Android phones that are more than three years old. If the UK decided to adopt the decentralised approach, it would be able to avail of the Exposure Notification API, and these issues would not exist. The percentage of people running older versions of Android will naturally fall over time as people upgrade their phones.

Whilst Google and Apple generally only allow one contact tracing app per country, flexibility is being shown where one country can have different systems, for example different states in the United States. If the UK government cannot be dissuaded from pursuing their current approach, then Northern Ireland should follow the much more effective strategy of using a decentralised approach and align with the Republic.”