CityLab Daily: Wearable Tech Enters the Fight Against Covid-19

Christel Deskins

Healthy surveillance: Wearable technologies like Fitbits show promise for detecting subtle early signs of Covid-19 infection and limiting asymptomatic spread. These devices monitor heart rate, sleep levels and physical activity patterns, and changes could help researchers identify infections before people present symptoms. But problems abound with real-world applications, Laura Bliss reports. For one, […]

Healthy surveillance: Wearable technologies like Fitbits show promise for detecting subtle early signs of Covid-19 infection and limiting asymptomatic spread. These devices monitor heart rate, sleep levels and physical activity patterns, and changes could help researchers identify infections before people present symptoms. But problems abound with real-world applications, Laura Bliss reports.

For one, most programs using the technology require participants to own their own devices, pricing out those who can’t afford a $50 to $400 gadget. There are also privacy concerns, particularly for studies in Black communities. Programs that strap tracking devices to the wrists of Black people recall an odious history of racist experimentation in the U.S. Now, proponents of the wearable-technology solution are working with community health workers to try to assuage some concerns among Black Americans and conduct studies responsibly. Today on CityLab: Wearable Tech Enters the Fight Against Covid-19

-Alex Wittenberg

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What we’re reading

  • The president of NYPD’s sergeants union goes to war (New York Magazine
  • This terrifying economic crisis will make cities better (In These Times)
  • How an indigenous community in Brazil used tech to contain the coronavirus (Slate)
  • Perennial disasters in port cities (Verso)
  • What the post office needs to survive a pandemic election (ProPublica)

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