• Rapid response

    Contact tracing apps for COVID-19: September update

    Contact tracing apps could be used to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Most of them work by automatically registering another smartphone when it is close by for a set period of time. If the user then tests positive for COVID-19 in the future, the contact tracing app notifies these contacts. Concerns have been raised about misuse of personal data. Initial data suggests there has been slow uptake of this new technology by users, and it's unclear if contact tracing apps have had or will affect the pandemic. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and now England and Wales have recently launched contact tracing apps.

  • Work programme

    Approved: Digital skills for life

    A POSTnote on digital skills for life will discuss the digital skills required for everyday life and employment, why parts of the population may lack these skills and which groups are most affected. It will consider the impact of the skills shortage on individuals and the economy as well as strategies to improve the population’s digital skills. Provisional start date: January 2021.

  • POSTnote

    Digital sequence information

    Evolving life sciences and agricultural research approaches may have a decreasing need to access physical resources in future, such as plant seeds or viral material. Information and genetic data may be all that is required for commercial exploitation of biological resources. This POSTnote summarises the challenge this creates for international discussions on the governance of genetic resources and the possible options for addressing these.

  • Rapid response

    Contact tracing apps for COVID-19

    Contact tracing apps could be used to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Most of them work by automatically registering another smartphone when it is too close for an extended period of time. Then if a user tests positive for Coronavirus in the future, the contact tracing app notifies these contacts. Some countries like Singapore and Australia have already adopted or rolled out their own contact tracing apps. Concerns have been raised about misuse of personal data. Initial data suggests there has been slow uptake of this new technology by users, and it's unclear if contact tracing apps have had or will have an effect on the pandemic.

  • POSTnote

    Remote sensing and machine learning

    There is increasing interest in using machine learning to automatically analyse remote sensing data and increase our understanding of complex environmental systems. While there are benefits from this approach, there are also some barriers to its use. This POSTnote examines the value of these approaches, and the technical and ethical challenges for wider implementation.

  • Horizon scanning

    Media, communications and COVID-19: What are experts concerned about?

    Over 1,100 experts have shared with us their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. This report outlines media and communications concerns. Experts worry that Government messages are unclear. They note that there have been inconsistencies in information shared by different parts of Government. It's also unclear what the UK public is legally required to do, and how these requirements vary across the UK. Beyond that, there are concerns about the overarching Government communications strategy, the scientific evidence behind it and the number of people it has reached. Experts are also concerned about the role of mass media during the outbreak. They are concerned about inaccurate reporting and how it could damage the public's trust in mainstream media. They're also concerned about the economic impact of the outbreak on independent media outlets. A financial downturn could lead to closures, limiting access to news for a segment of the UK population. Finally experts are concerned about misinformation. They worry that the UK Government is not doing enough to call out misinformation and stop its spread.

  • Horizon scanning

    Research, innovation and COVID-19: What are experts concerned about?

    Over 1,100 experts have shared with us their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. This report outlines concerns about research and innovation. Experts have concerns about testing and diagnostics. Specifically about the number of tests being carried out, the availability of PCR tests and the accuracy of antigen tests. There are also concerns about vaccines. Experts want to know how the Government is speeding up vaccine development and note the possibility of annual vaccinations for some coronaviruses. Experts also think there should be more research on therapies for COVID-19 patients, including larger plasma therapy trials. Experts also have a range of practical concerns on international collaboration, the validation and approval of innovations, and even manufacturing and distribution of new products. Finally there are concerns about the impact of the outbreak on research. Experts worry about the quality of research and data collection and the access to COVID-19 research, noting that some research is not open access.

  • Horizon scanning

    COVID-19 outbreak: What are experts concerned about?

    Over 1,100 experts have responded to a COVID-19 survey by POST's Knowledge Exchange Unit. Through the survey, experts shared their concerns about COVID-19 and COVID-impacted areas in the immediate and longer term future. Researchers have also shared what further data or information they would like to see the Government release to understand the decisions that underpin its approach. This first report outlines the survey methodology. Detailed reports with concerns on specific areas such as trade, education, and public health will be published in the coming days.

  • POSTnote

    Online extremism

    Extremism is possible in any ideology, including (but not limited to) politics and religion. Extremism can affect mental well-being, amplify hostility and threaten democratic debate. The global reach of the internet poses social and technological challenges for safeguarding citizens from extremism online. When the Commission for Countering Extremism surveyed over 2500 members of the public in 2019, 56% agreed that a lot more should be done to counter extremism online. This POSTnote outlines how the online environment can be used for extremist purposes, how exposure to online extremism can influence people and potential strategies to counter extremist content online.

  • Rapid response

    COVID-19 misinformation

    According to a recent study from Ofcom, 46% of respondents have encountered false or misleading coronavirus information since the lockdown. Most cases of misinformation are found on social media. Misinformation can lead to public mistrust, endangerment of public health, as well as hate crime and exploitation. Different approaches are being implemented to fight misinformation including content moderation, myth-busting, and a focus on education.