Winner of Hack from Home event develops privacy-forward ‘traffic light’ app to help end Coronavirus lockdown


Health Traffic Light, a project formed by a multidisciplinary team of designers, data scientists and academics has won Hack from Home, a global virtual hackathon to find technology solutions to fight the spread of COVID-19. Health Traffic Light is an infection risk scoring application that  uses citizen-owned data, rather than local smartphone storage to guarantee privacy.

FieldHouse Associates

The event took place remotely on Saturday 4th April and Sunday 5th April and was organised by Dataswift alongside world-renowned partners including NHSX, The Ethical Tech Alliance, HAT-LAB, Case Western Reserve University’s xLAB, and the Cleveland Clinic’s Hwang Lab


A UK-launched initiative, united by a global ambition to halt the spread of COVID-19, the hackathon brought together 822 participants from 62 countries to deliver 28 projects that can be scaled into solutions to fight COVID-19. 


The 28 projects were designed around three core themes: mass data mobility, citizen science and community health. The winning project, Health Traffic Light, is an international risk identification system that has proposed a privacy-preserving technology to identify individual exposure to the virus at scale. By tracking self-reported symptoms and networks of citizens that may have been exposed to the virus they can track the effects of COVID-19 in a population without the possibility of governments or organisations maintaining unfettered access to their information after the crisis. This is achieved by using personal data accounts, rather than storing citizens data in local smartphone storage that could still be accessed after the pandemic.


A brief description of the other winning projects:



  • AI For Good Simulator Covid-19 Refugee Camp Solutions – An agent-based simulation of the spread of COVID-19 disease within refugee camps.
  • Scandit – A health services solution that captures ID sources and test kit information alongside other device information to store as a Healthcare Passport for live geographic analysis and forecasts.
  • Delivery Angels – An app to self-organise local delivery to those who are vulnerable or symptomatic in their local community.



The Health Traffic Light team is now collaborating with HAT-LAB and Dataswift to develop their idea and bring it into production. The runners up: AI For Good Simulator,Covid-19 Refugee Camp Solutions, Scandit and Delivery Angels will receive €6,000 combined, provided by Just One Giant Lab.


The reason we brought together leaders and innovators from across the global technology community is that there is a clear opportunity for tech solutions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We couldn’t have hoped for better results. It was heartwarming to see the pull together mindset, which we associate as so uniquely “British”, come into play among a community that was truly global. The dedication and desire to do something good was evident from the teams kicking off their work at midnight on Friday, to the virtual happy hours, and finally seen in the quality of the finished products


We have already seen tech deployed to great effect in parts of China and Asia in particular, and contact tracing applications are increasingly being called for in Silicon Valley and around the world. However, many of these solutions come at a cost to our individual legal rights and there has been an alarming rise in the number of opportunistic apps being launched with the primary aim of harvesting people’s data. Our goal is to achieve a positive outcome for society but in a wholesome and ethical way. I hope that Health Traffic Light can successfully build and scale the product, to ultimately slow the spread of COVID-19 without compromising our individual rights and privacy.” said Professor Irene Ng, CEO of Dataswift and main sponsor of the Hack from Home initiative


Dataswift is a Cambridge-based company that enables businesses to deliver legal ownership and control of personal data to their customers through personal data accounts powered by the HAT MicroserverTM, a technology built by 7 U.K. universities funded by U.K. Government.


David Flynn, project lead, Health Traffic Light said: Participating in, and eventually winning this virtual hackathon has been an incredible experience! It was really inspiring to see so many of us from the global tech community coming together to help fight the spread of COVID-19.


Our team, Health Traffic Light is proposing a privacy-forward application to expedite the Coronavirus lockdown, and slow the spread of this devastating virus. Our solution is underpinned by citizen-owned personal data accounts to guarantee privacy. This means that access to the data – by the app developer, third parties, or government – is fully controlled by the user and on a strictly voluntary basis. Health Traffic Light users will be able to deny access to their information at any time they choose – such as when the pandemic is over.


Contract tracing has the potential to fight the spread of the virus and restart the economy, without compromising citizen privacy. We want to give people their peace of mind and independence back. Particularly for the most vulnerable in our society, we believe our solution could really help.


We are looking to share our ideas with the NHS and collaborate with partners to make this product available to citizens at the earliest opportunity.”