Trump: Google is working with the US government to develop a COVID-19 screening website;...

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Polycount

TS Evangelist
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Update #2 (3/16): Alphabet’s Verily launched Sunday night a pilot website for COVID-19 screening and testing. Project Baseline currently serves the San Francisco Bay Area only and requires users to login with a Google account.

Update (3/13): Not long after President Trump claimed that Google was working with over a thousand engineers on developing a website for Coronavirus self-screening at home, the company was forced to issue a statement that essentially contradicts everything Trump announced.

Verily, not Google is working on this project. Verily used to be a division of Google X, and today is a research arm of Alphabet. Perhaps most importantly, the website project is on the "early stages of development" and is not ready to serve the first pilot city yet, let alone help citizens across the country. The company's statement can be read below:

We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing. Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time. We appreciate the support of government officials and industry partners and thank the Google engineers who have volunteered to be part of this effort.

The site will help citizens screen themselves for the virus by answering a series of questions intended to narrow down symptoms. If the person is likely to have the virus based on their responses, the site will direct them to the nearest mobile test location for COVID-19, which will reportedly be set up in locations like store parking lots.

Results won't be given to visitors on the spot, of course -- samples will need to be sent back to a lab for testing. However, once the test results are in, they'll be displayed on the original screening website so that users can stay informed and more easily decide their next steps.

According to the President, roughly 1,700 Google employees are developing the website right now. Trump has been known to exaggerate from time to time, but given the high-profile nature of this virus, we wouldn't be surprised if that figure is accurate. In all likelihood, tens of thousands (if not millions) of Americans will visit this website over the coming months, so it's in Google's best interest to ensure it's bug-free and capable of handling high levels of web traffic.

Other details about the website and the partnership between Google and the US government are still scarce at the moment. However, we can probably expect to learn more (and perhaps even see the site launch) over the coming days.

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brucek

TS Guru
I would very much like to see an org chart / list of assignments explaining how 1,700 engineers can work together to develop what sounds like a relatively simple web site.

Edit: maybe I'm not cynical enough. While I still can't believe you actually need that many to do the work, maybe I shouldn't be so skeptical that Google might try to charge the government for that many anyway "just in case they're needed."
 

GreenArrow

TS Enthusiast
I would very much like to see an org chart / list of assignments explaining how 1,700 engineers can work together to develop what sounds like a relatively simple web site.

Edit: maybe I'm not cynical enough. While I still can't believe you actually need that many to do the work, maybe I shouldn't be so skeptical that Google might try to charge the government for that many anyway "just in case they're needed."
I actually don't think this will be simple. Since a lot of the hard work will be coordination with the labs and testing facilities. Maintaining that database will require a lot of people who are not engineers. Making sure that one facility is not overwhelmed and much more.
 
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Well luckily (koff koff) Google, et al, is prepared for a large scale government information collection program.
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Remember, it's not like Google would ever combine this information with other data it collects to sell targetted advertising on you.
 

brucek

TS Guru
I agree there's lots of work here for the HHS, CDC and other healthcare authorities as far as bringing up and coordinating the clinical resources.

The specific quote I was reacting to was "1,700 Google employees are developing the website."
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I don't see the harm in posting my personal health information on Google.

It's not like they can be hacked or something.
The problem with Google is that it lasts forever and there is no telling who they will share or sell it to. While you see no harm today, when you're 60 and your life insurance / health insurance take a sudden spike it could well be because of all the health information they have accumulated on you, and not bothered to tell you what they are doing with it......
 

summermick

TS Rookie
Finally, we got a president, who knows how to choose the right company to build a website. I still cannot believe the predecessor spent $1.7 billion to build the HealthCare.gov. WTF!
 
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Julio Franco

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amghwk

TS Guru
The problem with Google is that it lasts forever and there is no telling who they will share or sell it to. While you see no harm today, when you're 60 and your life insurance / health insurance take a sudden spike it could well be because of all the health information they have accumulated on you, and not bothered to tell you what they are doing with it......
That's a valid and logical explanation. Even I was thinking before, what's the big deal if they know my health information.
 

brucek

TS Guru
A couple things about US health insurance specifically:

1. The things they are allowed to take into consideration are regulated. Rates can not be set based on random data from Google or anywhere else. The allowed factors are currently a pretty small list, mostly age and whether you smoke.

2. Prior to Obamacare, where you had to fill out a detailed questionnaire and they were allowed to base rates on your current and past health, they were entitled to honest answers to their questions. They couldn't get it automatically from Google or anywhere else back then, but that's no advantage to the consumer, because if you were the person who ended up needing expensive treatment you can count on them going back over your original application with a fine-tooth comb, comparing it to all your past medical records, and looking for anything you missed so they could disqualify your policy.
 
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A couple things about US health insurance specifically:

1. The things they are allowed to take into consideration are regulated. Rates can not be set based on random data from Google or anywhere else. The allowed factors are currently a pretty small list, mostly age and whether you smoke.

2. Prior to Obamacare, where you had to fill out a detailed questionnaire and they were allowed to base rates on your current and past health, they were entitled to honest answers to their questions. They couldn't get it automatically from Google or anywhere else back then, but that's no advantage to the consumer, because if you were the person who ended up needing expensive treatment you can count on them going back over your original application with a fine-tooth comb, comparing it to all your past medical records, and looking for anything you missed so they could disqualify your policy.
ummm: Trump Administration Says Entire Affordable Care Act Should Be Repealed
Times change. Rules change.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I'm not sure where you get the idea that a government program that intrusive and destructive and illegal has to be replaced. As a bit of conflated comparison, what was the 18th Amendment's replacement after repeal?
A very nice health care program just like Trump said! He knows what is best for everyone and he said that the government would replace it with a very nice program.

Of course, there is the fact that this was yet another of his BS statements.
 
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