Google, Microsoft, and Palantir are building a COVID-19 dashboard for the UK's health system

Google, Microsoft, and Palantir are building a COVID-19 dashboard for the UK's health system

NHS nurses

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

NHS nurses wait for the next patient at a drive through Coronavirus testing site in a car park on March 12, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England.

  • Google, Palantir, and Microsoft will create a COVID-19 dashboard for the UK's healthcare system, it has been confirmed.
  • The three companies will help the UK's NHS corral data about from lots of different sources and clean it up, theoretically making it easier to decide where to boost resources, who is at risk, and where to place staff.
  • Early reports of the project sparked privacy concerns from activists who worry about US firms profiting from sensitive UK patient and medical data.
  • The NHS said it would keep ownership of all data and delete the dashboard eventually - but it would also use the project to "get better at" data collection and analysis in future.
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Major US tech firms Google, Palantir, and Microsoft have been contracted to help the UK's healthcare system, the NHS, corral data for a COVID-19 dashboard.

The three firms will build a platform that will gather data from disparate sources, such as call centers and COVID-19 test data, clean it up, and place it all into a single dashboard.


The thinking is that this will make it easier for the NHS' central organizations to stay on top of the COVID-19 crisis, and make better decisions about who is most at risk from the virus, where to deploy staff, and where to increase resources.

Alex Karp Palantir CEO Sun Valley 2019

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Palantir CEO Alex Karp at Sun Valley in 2019.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the three firms' involvement in a post on Sunday, after reports last week that major tech firms were involved in building a data platform for the NHS. The BBC reported that Amazon is involved in the project too, although details were not given in the post.


The project has been commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHS X. The post's authors wrote that all data would stay within the NHS' control.

"Once the public health emergency situation has ended, data will either be destroyed or returned in line with the law and the strict contractual agreements that are in place between the NHS and partners," they wrote.

Microsoft will build the platform's backend on its Azure cloud platform, Palantir will power the front end software, while Google may help with the actual data collection. Faculty AI, a London-based machine learning company, is supporting the wider development of the project.


Access to the data held by the UK's NHS is a sensitive topic, since the system is state-funded and loved by UK citizens.

Palantir's involvement, in particular, initially caused some alarm. The company operates under the radar and has come under fire from immigrant rights groups in the US for its contract with ICE. In late 2019, it took up a military contract with the Pentagon previously abandoned by Google after employees protested it was unethical.

"Palantir have a poor reputation, as engaging in activities which threaten personal privacy and may lead to other human rights abuses," Jim Killock, Executive Director of the UK privacy activist organisation Open Rights Group said in a press statement last week. "The NHS therefore needs to be extremely cautious and transparent in its dealings with Palantir. They must explain how people's data may be handled and protected and how they will ensure that Palantir does not acquire or abuse information."


Although the post's authors said the dashboard would be shuttered once the crisis was over, and information would either be erased or "returned" to NHS England, they added that they would use the opportunity "to get better within the government at data collection, aggregation and analysis in a way that protects the privacy of our citizens."

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