Palantir In Talks To Support Contact Tracing For UK

(Bloomberg) — Palantir Technologies Inc. is in talks with the U.K. government to provide support for contact tracing of Covid-19 cases, according to people familiar with the discussions. Technology from the newly public data-mining company could augment the contact tracing system already in use in the U.K., which has run into problems.

No contract has been finalized with the government and the U.S.-based company, and any deal would represent an extension of work the company already does for the U.K. in battling the virus, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

The Financial Times earlier reported Palantir was in talks to support contact tracing services in the U.K. A Palantir spokeswoman declined to comment.

Palantir already aids governments in more than a dozen countries with data analysis on the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s software aggregates reported cases, tracks the distribution of medical equipment and predicts future hot spots.

Contact tracing apps have run into hurdles worldwide.

Contact tracing, which identifies and alerts people who may have been exposed to Covid-19, could drive down new cases by containing them more quickly. But some programs have also raised privacy concerns by allowing geo-location tracking based on individuals’ health status. The U.K. has already approved a test-and-trace program, but its software buckled under the technical challenge and resulted in delays of counting and processing more than 15,000 positive cases.

Palantir has seen business surge this year, as companies and governments scramble to make sense of mountains of fast-changing data from disparate sources.

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