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Test and Protect: my experience of working on Scotland’s contact tracing system


“You’re on mute! Sorry, can’t hear you! I wish we could do this in person! Let’s turn on the cameras and at least see each other! Oh this virtual world!”

These are just some of the phrases I and many others have become increasingly familiar with as millions of us took to working from home.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global lockdown has required us to stay safe and power on using a combination of collaboration tools and determination so that work doesn’t stop and isn’t impacted. I would like to share the experiences of a resilient group of people who came together to ensure the seamless delivery of nationally critical work, virtually, in just five weeks.

Looking back, we had been in a national lockdown for a month and I had been at Capgemini for just seven months when we were asked to support the design and implementation of Scotland’s Covid-19 National Contact Tracing Service. This was to include the new national contact centre and local health protection teams across Scotland’s 14 NHS Boards. Working with both NHS National Services Scotland and Public Health Scotland, it involved a huge team effort from different groups of people, many of whom had never worked together before.

The challenge of dealing with such a fast-moving situation meant that everyone had to be flexible and adapt to the latest developments of how the pandemic was spreading each and every day!  From the clinicians looking at how best to tackle the disease to us designing the capability to deliver a contact tracing system robust enough to cater to the needs of Scotland’s citizens. We worked in close collaboration with the IT team from NSS to understand the art of the possible and work through each element of the solution. It seemed we were living in ‘dog years’ as what we managed to achieve in days might ordinarily been achieved in weeks or months, but we supported each other, remained positive and the joint purpose and efforts between PHS, NSS and our team at Capgemini made our virtual collaboration possible and ultimately, a success.

For me, personally, this is not just a great example of how we deliver value to clients but also a great example of how passionate we are about what we do. Working with the NHS for a few years now, we are proud to take an active role to support this critical project. Thinking about her experience, my colleague, Fiona Mcandrew commented: “This project will remain close to my heart as it bought alive the true meaning of collaboration. Be it collaborating with the Capgemini team, with the clinicians at NHS, or the various boards at NHS. Working with many people across all organisations, we became a big team that was 100% committed to making it all possible.’’ I am sure everyone who worked on the project felt the same.

Public Health Scotland thought it was important to set expectations for how the contact tracing system should develop and focused on building the system over a few weeks to enable the service to be up and running without delay and enhancement features to be added as the situation evolved. This required us to really get to the heart of the design the team needed, working across different technologies and align with the capabilities required by public health clinicians. I think it is due to our strong understanding of what PHS was looking for, our wealth of previous experience and ability to keep things moving at pace that we were able to join all the pieces together and deliver the solution we did. When I look back on it I am very proud of our achievement and the part I played.

‘Delivering the digital and IT infrastructure to support Scotland’s contact tracing has been an immense and successful collaborative effort between Public Health Scotland, National Services Scotland and Capgemini.  That success was based on all involved working as a single team with staff from all parties going above in beyond in their commitment.  Capgemini’s knowledge and delivery focus was vital to the rapid delivery of system that has been invaluable in Scotland’s response to the pandemic.‘ says Phil Couser, Director Data Driven Innovation, Public Health Scotland

Deryck Mitchelson, Director of Digital and Security, NHS National Services Scotland commented ‘‘COVID 19 has presented us with a unique situation where only the combination of the right technology and trusted partners can make a real difference to people’s lives. We were delighted that the Capgemini team were able to work with us and design the contact tracing service in short timescales backed by their deep understanding of ServiceNow technology and a commitment to the Public Sector, to support this nationally critical work”

A pandemic means different things to different people. To the NHS it means saving people’s lives. To governments it means having access to the right information and data to ensure citizen welfare. To us this was definitely a fantastic opportunity to bring our knowledge, expertise and the technology together to make sure we impact lives in the right way.


Anna Kelshaw

Managing Consultant , Brand & Experience