BBC Pandemic App

UK citizen science experiment for the digital age.




United Kingdom


How to enroll 100,000 UK residents in an experiment that delivers the data needed to accurately predict the impact of a future pandemic?

Northern Irish agency Big Motive and Q partnered up to build a prototype which would simulate and predict future pandemic spread and in a later stage a full iOS and Android app.

No1 Medical app – App Store (UK)
No1 Medical app – Google Play Store (UK)
‘Top 100’ Free Apps #19 – App Store (UK)
‘Top 100’ Free Apps – Google Play Store (UK)

What we did

  • Android App
  • iOS App
  • Web Backend
  • Quality Assurance

Tech stack

  • iOS
  • Android
  • PHP
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Angular


  1. Workshop

    We started the project with a workshop where we created user stories and identified development pain points.

  2. Prototyping

    Through rapid prototyping and user-testing, we were able to analyze the product on a small user sample. The goal of prototyping was to create a user experience that could be easily understood by a broader audience.

  3. Algorithm Creation

    The science and math teams mapped the experimental data requirements and designed each step to find the simplest way of asking questions and inputting responses.

  4. Development & Launch

    The app was developed for iOS and Android and was launched in October 2017 with the expectation of 10,000 people finishing the experiment.

  5. The Result

    The end result was that more than 100,000 people finished the experiment! The experiment has been hailed as a landmark success, greatly exceeding the expectations of both scientists and the BBC.



Build a solution which would accurately simulate the spread of pandemic

In collaboration with Big Motive, we developed a solution which would track the location of users, collect data and predict the virus spread throughout the UK.

Data protection, privacy and the potential misunderstanding messages about viruses

System was designed to completely anonymize data, excluding any identifying information.

Attract 10,000 UK residents to participate in a short time-span

The end result was that almost 100,000 people finished the experiment.


BBC Pandemic mobile app is featured in a groundbreaking citizen science experiment that simulates the spread of a deadly flu outbreak. The result of the experiment was revealed in the new TV program on BBC,  ‘Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic’.

Q was responsible for native mobile and backend development for the BBC Pandemic iOS and Android apps. Our partner Big Motive was responsible for the UX and UI design of the apps. This partnership has contributed to a huge leap forward in science that could help save millions of lives.

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