Monitoring the R-Citizen in the Time of Coronavirus

Communicating COVID-19: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, (eds) M Lewis, E Govender and K Holland, Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming 2021

15 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2021

See all articles by John Flood

John Flood

Griffith University - Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research; Queensland University of Technology; Centre for Blockchain Technologies

Monique Lewis

Griffith University; Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research

Date Written: January 28, 2021

Abstract

The COVID pandemic has overwhelmed many countries in their attempts at tracking and tracing people infected with the disease. Our paper examines how tracking and tracing is done looking at manual and technological means. It raises the issues around efficiency and privacy, etc. The paper investigates more closely the approaches taken by two countries, namely Taiwan and the UK. It shows how tracking and tracing can be handled sensitively and openly compared to the bungled attempts of the UK that have led to the greatest number of dead in Europe. The key messages are that all communications around tracking and tracing need to open, clear, without confusion and delivered by those closest to the communities receiving the messages.This occurred in Taiwan but in the UK the central government chose to close out local government and other local resources. The highly centralised dirigiste approach of the government alienated much of the population who came to distrust government. As local government was later brought into the COVID fold the messaging improved. Taiwan always remained open in its communications, even allowing citizens to participate in improving the technology around COVID. Taiwan learnt from its earlier experiences with SARS, whereas the UK ignored its pandemic planning exercises from earlier years and even experimented with crude ideas of herd immunity by letting the disease rip through the population--an idea soon abandoned.

We also derive a new type of citizen from the pandemic, namely the R citizen. This unfortunate archetype is both a blessing and a curse. If the citizen scores over 1 the disease accelerates and the R citizen is chastised, whereas if the citizen declines to zero it disappears but receives no plaudits for their behaviour. The R citizen can neither exist or die, rather like Schrödinger's cat. R citizens are of course datafied individuals who are assemblages of data and are treated as distinct from humans. We argue they cannot be so distinguished without rendering them inhuman. This is as much a moral category as it is a scientific one.

We suggest one approach to the handling of data through blockchain as a means of ensuring the integrity and transparency of the data.

Keywords: COVID, COVID-19, Coronavirus, data, tracking, tracing, blockchain, Taiwan, UK

Suggested Citation

Flood, John A. and Lewis, Monique, Monitoring the R-Citizen in the Time of Coronavirus (January 28, 2021). Communicating COVID-19: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, (eds) M Lewis, E Govender and K Holland, Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3774687 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3774687

John A. Flood (Contact Author)

Griffith University - Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research ( email )

Nathan campus
Nathan, Queensland 4111
Australia

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Centre for Blockchain Technologies ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://blockchain.cs.ucl.ac.uk/john-flood/

Monique Lewis

Griffith University ( email )

Gold Coast Campus
Southport, Queensland 4222
Australia
+61 7 5552 8002 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Monique_Lewis3

Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research ( email )

Nathan Campus
Nathan, Queensland 4111
Australia

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