Controversial tech firm Palantir is reportedly building a data tool to help US authorities allocate COVID-19 vaccines

Controversial tech firm Palantir is reportedly building a data tool to help US authorities allocate COVID-19 vaccines
Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
  • Secretive data-analytics company Palantir is developing a system to help local authorities decide where to allocate COVID-19 vaccines, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The system is called Tiberius, and is named after Captain Kirk from the "Star Trek" franchise.
  • A document seen by the Journal said Tiberius will analyze "demographic, employment, and public health data" to aid local officials in deciding high-priority populations to vaccinate.
  • Palantir, cofounded by Silicon Valley mogul and vocal Trump-supporter Peter Thiel, has come under fire from human rights groups in the past for its contracts with the US government.

Data-analytics firm Palantir, which has drawn fire from human rights groups for its US government contracts, is reportedly working on a tool to help local authorities decide where to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

The Wall Street Journal reported the news on Thursday, citing state and local health officials briefed on the project. Palantir did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

The software Palantir is developing is called Tiberius, and it will pool coronavirus data to help officials where to allocate vaccines, the Journal reported. It could show, for example, areas with high proportions of healthcare workers, clinically vulnerable people, or elderly people.
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A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services told the Journal that Palantir is acting as a subcontractor building Tiberius. She also said no personally identifiable information will be used by the project.

Palantir, which was cofounded by Silicon Valley mogul and vocal Trump-supporter Peter Thiel, has been criticized in the past for its contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A document created by Palantir about Tiberius, seen by the Journal, said it would "integrate a wide range of demographic, employment, and public health data sets to identify the location of priority populations."
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Combined with infection data, the idea is the tool will enable local officials to "proactively identify distribution bottlenecks, inventory constraints, and gaps in administration across key populations," the document said.

Another of Palantir's services, called HHS Protect, is also currently being used by the HHS Department to track COVID-19 hospitalizations. The department's spokeswoman said Tiberius is built on the same software as HHS Protect. The HHS spokeswoman also said the project was named after Captain Kirk from "Star Trek," whose middle name is Tiberius.
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