New York City Looks To Salesforce To Assist With Coronavirus Contact Tracing Program

San Francisco SaaS giant, Salesforce announced it has been delegated to help New York City build its COVID-19 contact tracing program.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said that part of the program would see the company set up a call center as well as a customer relationship and case management system that will track and test everyone who comes into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. The program will also track potential cases and isolate people before they become sick. One thousand two hundred hotel rooms have been set aside to help isolate people exposed to the virus.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg will lead the program in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. This will see the city hire 2,500 people, dubbed public health "foot soldiers" to lead efforts.

Salesforce says it can use data-management software to help trained crews trace "relationships across people, places, and events" and identify virus clusters down to the level of a neighborhood store. It relies on manual input of information gathered through conversations by phone, text, or email.

Being hit as hard as it has, New York has struggled to increase its testing capacity during the outbreak. While it's relied on social distancing measures to contain the virus, de Blasio says that widespread testing and tracing of people will be crucial to easing restrictions and reopening the city.

The company's database tools have raised privacy concerns because of its need to collect and store detailed information about social interactions, whereabouts, and health status.

The ACLU hasn't discussed the Salesforce model but does urge that contact-tracing public health departments protect people from the unnecessary disclosure of personal information and not to criminalize the requirement for self-isolation.

Salesforce has also revealed its own plan of returning its 50,000 employees to work. This will heavily rely on apps, which will allow employees to check and register their temperatures.

One of the features is that if an employee becomes infected, an in-house contact tracing team at Salesforce will reach out to colleagues that may have come into contact with the infected person.

Salesforce's stock price rose 2.25% to $173.73 a share after Mayor de Blasio announced the launch of the new partnership.