Trusted Community
Contact Tracing

Silicon Harlem

an impact based business with substantial outreach in the Uptown Manhattan community is coordinating the development of UpTrace. Since 2013. the organization has achieved significant progress in bringing internet connectivity Uptown and is currently involved in supplying New York State Housing Authority with broadband connectivity. Silicon Harlem is also the recipient of two National Science Foundation projects focused on advanced broadband connectivity and community edge computing.

Silicon Harlem

Individual Health and Community Health

We’ve been through round one of COVID-19’s impact on Upper Manhattan. Now as this virus ravages the rest of the country, it's only a matter of time until we may have to deal with this and/or other pandemic-like health challenges again. How can we move towards community resilience and prosperity in the face of this and future health crises?

According to the United Nations Secretary General, “digital technology is central to almost every aspect of the response to the pandemic.

The digital divide is now a matter of life and death for people who are unable to access essential health‑care information. It is threatening to become the new face of inequality, reinforcing the social and economic disadvantages suffered by minorities of all kinds.”

Uptown - Harlem and Washington Heights 

UpTrace is being developed in Harlem and Washington Heights, New York City - minority communities that are also two of the most vital and culturally active neighborhoods in the world, they are ideal locations for prototyping.

COVID-19 has provided dramatic evidence of the threats posed by ungoverned use of digital technology, from exclusion and inequality to surveillance, human rights abuses, and cybercrime.

A low response rate and privacy concerns are barriers to effective large-scale contact tracing in places like New York City. When Contact Tracing started in June of the residents who tested positive for coronavirus only 42% gave information about their close contacts to tracers. 

Deeper trust, accessibility, and an active compassionate community will help to substantially increase the number of respondents. 

Contact Tracing Redefined

We are in a deeply transformative time. Over the past few months the Black Lives Matter movement has filled the streets with people demanding the reassessment of community policing. This reassessment paves the way towards an opportunity for the creation of more holistic and compassionate community support networks. In the current system, police are often over-burdened with tasks that are better solved via other means. It is becoming increasingly clear that guns, use of force, violence, and the threat of arrest are not the only tools for supporting healthier living in any community. By implementing enhanced social support networks, a myriad of community issues and dysfunctions can be solved as we reimagine the role of community policing .

New York State has hired an army of Contact Tracers. These new positions should evolve through a public-private partnership with trust-tested community organizations better positioned to provide new approaches toward overall health from within the community. This could replace many of the functions police departments have been called on to perform, yet may not be best qualified to do. Contact tracers are now becoming the main interface with Covid-affected community members who may not welcome or trust the intervention of these new players. In association with community partners, we envision a system to integrate Contact Tracers into the community in a way that produces positive impact. With the new possibilities offered by technology, The role of Contact Tracing can now be expanded with additional skills such as mental health support, economic health, housing, and other real human needs recognized as such from within the community.

A more enhanced role for Contact Tracers in the community can lead to the creation of a new specialized profession which creates avenues for new employment opportunities. New curricula could be added to our higher education system to prepare graduates for these new public health support roles.

The movement to redefine community policing offers an opportunity to shift some of the city’s police budget to finance new compassionate forces to rebuild community stewardship and trust.

Contact Tracing can evolve into a foundational technology for deep community connection and collaboration for people who are striving to live in the new world we experience as we emerge with new found dignity and integrity.

Contact Us

  • Silicon Harlem

  • Clayton Banks

  • 646-265-2716
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Coherence Software

  • Ted Schulman

  • 212-217-9669

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


UpTrace is built with leading-edge technologies to assure that the application ecosystem is secure, trusted, and private.

UpTrace is open-source and distributed architecture. 

Community Health Council

The creation of a Community Health Council which respects user ownership of information and open-sourcing a distributed system is the first step in reaching public acceptance, trust, and participation. 

The UpTrace Community Health Council (currently in formation) will include key neighborhood stakeholders and anchor institutions. Community Boards, Hospitals, Schools/Universities, Businesses, Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District, Churches/Mosques/Temples, Public Housing/Residential Complexes, additional key services, and sectors.

The network will implement Multi-Stakeholder Digital Governance. Local anchor institutions in a public/private partnership are best suited to address the unique needs and requirements of the community.

The vision is a decentralized technology ecosystem designed to enhance community trust, compassion, and social justice. More than bridging the digital divide the network becomes a foundation to build local economies and resilience in a technologically connected world.

UpTrace (Uptown Contact Trace) is a COVID-19 Contact Tracing community governed and managed neighborhood-based technology network.

Local neighborhoods and at-risk communities need to take charge right now. It is clear from the disproportionate numbers of fatalities and healthcare disparities for people of color, that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing systemic inequalities across the country. 

Washington Heights is home to the Zip Code with the highest rate of positive antibody tests in all of Manhattan, About 33.7 percent of antibody tests came back positive for residents in that area.

Residents in Harlem ranked second in Manhattan for the highest positive antibody test rate, with just under 27 percent of people in the neighborhood who were tested for antibodies showing they had been infected with COVID-19.

A trusted grassroots approach is required to overcome people’s concerns about information misuse. 

Multi-stakeholder Model

"The multistakeholder model of Internet governance is the best mechanism for maintaining an open, resilient, and secure Internet because, among other things, it is informed by a broad foundation of interested parties – including businesses, technical experts, civil society, and governments – arriving at consensus through a bottom-up process regarding policies affecting the underlying functioning of the Internet domain system.”

— Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling, Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Multi-stakeholder Model is an organizational framework or structure which adopts the multistakeholder process of governance or policy making, which aims to bring together the primary stakeholders such as businesses, civil society, governments, research institutions and non-government organizations to cooperate and participate in the dialogue, decision making and implementation of solutions to common problems or goals.

Building Trust

Nationwide demonstrations against police violence have sparked long overdue conversations around reallocating public safety resources and reinvesting in our most vulnerable communities. As cities begin reimagining what public safety can look like, technology can help to define and support the steps communities can take to assess how public safety is working for them now, shrink the current footprint of law enforcement on vulnerable populations, and avoid fears of rising violence.

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