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An Estonian software to help restore pre-Covid normalcy?

Anett Numa, e-Estonia

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The pandemic time has challenged us in so many ways and drastically affected many sectors. Who would have ever thought that in 2020, there are phone applications tracking people’s movements and informing them of being in close contact with another person? Or that you will be scanning a QR code to prove you have been vaccinated? 

If someone a couple of years ago would have told me that this is how the world will look, I would have thought I am watching a science fiction movie. But whether we want it or no, this is the reality now, and technology provides us an excellent opportunity to get out of the crisis. Quickly and effectively.

Software to help restore normalcy

Estonian company Guardtime has announced that they have started a project with the Estonian Government and the WHO. They are actively working on a pilot project named VaccineGuard, which helps control the vaccination process without violating anyone’s privacy. Its digital infrastructure helps connect different partners in the vaccine ecosystem by enabling data provenance and verification across international borders. The platform itself is built through software APIs that do not require dedicated infrastructure with security and privacy delivered by Guardtime’s KSI blockchain. Simply put, this software will help us return to attending events, travel, and live in an open society again.

No violation of personal data 

Without any violation and breaches of personal data, Guardtime’s software should give a reliable overview of vaccination data. But how does this work? Each state sends a summary of trustworthy laboratories to the WHO, who stores this data in their secure internal system. Suppose a person needs to identify that they have been vaccinated against coronavirus. In that case, they need to provide an identification, which could be a QR code either in their passport or on the phone. Identification requests confirmation from the WHO system whether the laboratory is on a reliable list. If the response is positive, then the system also ensures the vaccination is valid and provides an affirmative reply.

Working with the WHO

Marten Kaevats, National Digital Advisor, is working with the WHO groups on making sure the VaccineGuard solution would focus on the same standard as the Estonian X-road data exchange layer.  Ain Aaviksoo, Guardtime’s Chief Medical Officer, has announced that Estonia, Hungary, and Iceland, together with AstraZeneca Estonia, have already started a pilot project – Guardtime’s VaccineGuard. As I brought out before, the product is built on KSI technology and is based on a six-month collaboration with the Estonian Government and the World Health Organization. It is an open platform for hospitals, citizens, certificate providers, public health authorities, vaccine manufacturers, border guards, and many others to provide an opportunity to share vaccination information across borders and systems securely.

Technology to the rescue

Respecting GDPR and data privacy in general, we can again take one stride closer to getting back to normalcy. As one wise man has said: “You never let a severe crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.“ In this case, I couldn’t agree more. Time for technology to take over again

Written by
Anett Numa

digital transformation adviser at the e-estonia briefing centre

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