Using GIS for public health and its privacy implications: A case study of Kerala

Governments, globally, are turning to data and technology to improve governance, specifically service delivery, with tools such as digital healthcare sensors and the Internet of Things. At the same time, these technologies are fusing into the lives of their users; the ballooning of personal data has sparked a conversation on privacy and safety. With a focus on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which can greatly enhance planning and public service delivery, we look at privacy issues surrounding health data. We highlight GIS and health, not just in theory, but by bringing in lessons learned from our ongoing work using GIS to improve service delivery in Kerala. We document our takeaways to help future deployments of the technology, both in Kerala and in other Indian states. Recommendations are provided on how Kerala should use GIS to improve its healthcare delivery without infringing on the privacy of its citizens.