Coronavirus: EU interoperability gateway goes live, first contact tracing and warning apps linked to the system

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


To exploit the full potential of contact tracing and warning apps to break the chain of coronavirus infections across borders and save lives, the Commission, at the invitation by EU Member States, has set up an EU-wide system to ensure interoperability – a so-called ‘gateway’. After a successful pilot phase, the system goes live today with the first wave of national apps now linked through this service: Germany’s Corona-Warn-App, Ireland’s COVID tracker, and Italy’s immuni. Together, these apps have been downloaded by around 30 million people, which corresponds to two-thirds of all app downloads in the EU.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Single Market, said: “Many Member States have launched voluntary contact tracing and warning apps, and the Commission has supported them in make these apps safely interact with each other. Free movement is an integral part of the Single Market – the gateway is facilitating this while helping save lives.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, added: “Coronavirus tracing and warning apps can effectively complement other measures like increased testing and manual contact tracing. With cases on the rise again, they can play an important role to help us break the transmission chains. When working across borders these apps are even more powerful tools. Our gateway system going live today is an important step in our work, and I would call on citizens to make use of such apps, to help protecting each other.”

Jens Spahn, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, said: “Everywhere in Europe, infections are on the rise again. Right now, national warning apps are making a real difference. Because every infection chain that, thanks to an app, is broken more quickly helps to contain the pandemic. With the new gateway service, we are connecting apps across Europe. Like this, contacts can also be warned during or following a trip abroad.”

In the fight against coronavirus, most Member States have decided to launch a contact tracing and warning app. In total, 20 apps which are based on decentralised systems can be interoperable through the gateway service. They can be linked to the gateway after following a protocol that foresees several tests and checks, and an update has to be issued for each app. The second group of apps will be linked next week. Then, Czechia’s eRouška, Denmark’s smitte stop, Latvia’s Apturi COVID and Spain’s Radar Covid are expected to join, while further apps will be linked to the system in November. The overview of participating Member States is available on a dedicated webpage.

The gateway ensures that apps work seamlessly cross-borders. Thus, users will only need to install one app and when they travel to another participating European country they will still benefit from contact tracing and receiving alerts, be it in their home country or abroad. The gateway server keeps the amount of data exchanged to a minimum. It will efficiently receive and pass on arbitrary identifiers between national apps. No other information than arbitrary keys, generated by the apps, will be handled by the gateway: the information is pseudonymised, encrypted, kept to the minimium, and only stored as long as necessary to trace back infections. It does not allow the identification of individual persons, nor to track location or movement of devices.

The setup of the gateway follows the agreement by Member States on technical specifications to ensure a safe exchange of information between the backend servers of national contact tracing and warning apps based on a decentralised architecture. The system was developed and set up in less than two months by T-Systems and SAP, and will be operated from the Commission’s data centre in Luxembourg. 

Background

Contact tracing apps, if fully compliant with EU rules and well-coordinated, can play a key role in all phases of crisis management. They can complement existing manual contact tracing and help interrupt the transmission chain of the virus. Thereby, they can contribute to saving lives.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Member States, backed by the Commission, have been assessing the effectiveness, security, privacy, and data protection aspects of digital solutions to address the crisis. They have developed an EU toolbox for contact tracing and warning apps, which was accompanied by guidance on data protection. This was part of a common coordinated approach to support the gradual lifting of confinement measures, as set out in a Commission Recommendation. To ensure tracing and warning apps work cross-border, Member States, with the support of the Commission agreed on interoperability guidelines in May, on a set of technical specifications in June, and the Commission adopted an Implementing Decision to provide a legal basis for the gateway service. In September, the system was tested in a pilot phase.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Poor Greeks, Irish and Spaniards still pay for the faults of German and French banks

Putting a price on carbon will help New York state achieve a clean energy future

Parliament backs new CO2 emissions limits for cars and vans

Germany caught with selfish double standards in euro area policy

5 inventions that could transform the health of our ocean

Insecurity and violence turn Nigeria into a ‘pressure cooker’ that must be addressed, says UN rights expert

JADE President opens JADE Spring Meeting 2014

UN food aid to Yemen will fully resume after two-month break, as Houthis ‘guarantee’ delivery

Coronavirus could trigger a hunger pandemic – unless urgent action is taken

Antitrust: Commission provides guidance on allowing limited cooperation among businesses, especially for critical hospital medicines during the coronavirus outbreak

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

The rise of alternative medical practices in modern sports

In Venezuela, Bachelet calls on Government to release prisoners, appeals for ‘bold steps towards compromise’

UN recorded 64 new allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse in the past three months

Why it’s time to take central banks’ digital currencies seriously

How did Facebook fool the Commission that easily during the WhatsApp acquisition?

How the EU’s new data-sharing strategy could benefit companies

Why skills are keeping CEOs awake at night

Countries must make teaching profession more financially and intellectually attractive

Data capture, not disclosure, is the way to meet our climate goals

Venezuela: Parliament calls for urgent EU help for people fleeing the country

A third of young people polled by UN, report being a victim of online bullying

Can the whole world live in peace?

UNcomplicating the UN: a new podcast is born over coffee in New York

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

Weak growth of G20 international merchandise trade in third quarter of 2018

Remarks by Commissioner Lenarčič on the deployment of EU Medical Teams to Italy

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Is history a new NATO weapons against Russia?

Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests

Devastating storms like Hurricane Florence ‘unusual this far north’: UN weather agency

Women lose most from the climate crisis. How can we empower them?

The DNA of the future retail CEO

Security Union: political agreement on strengthened Schengen Information System

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

EU funds must reach media and creative sector, say MEPs

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

The 28 EU leaders care more about fiscal orthodoxy than effectively fighting youth unemployment

European values must prevail, even in a state of public emergency, MEPs say

How can we regulate disruptive technologies?

Smart devices must come with trust already installed

This German supermarket’s shelves are filled with food other stores won’t sell

Is this a turning point in the fight against slavery?

TTIP wins first crucial EU test: MEPs give in to the trade agreement

We need to bin disposable items for good. Here are 5 ways to do it

OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

Coronavirus: EU grants €314 million to innovative companies to combat the virus and support recovery

Work to make the world a better place: 5 things you need to know about ‘green jobs’

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

UN rights experts call on Philippines Government to halt ‘unacceptable attacks’ on Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

How fixing broken food systems can help us meet all the SDGs

For how long and at what cost can the ECB continue printing trillions to keep euro area going?

The European Parliament double-checks the EU 2014-2020 budget

Ship Recycling is the Commission’s Titanic

8000 young people in the EP in Strasbourg: “a breath of fresh air for EU democracy”

What you need to know about 5G

Mental and comportamental health in the pandemic context

Third Facebook-Cambridge Analytica hearing: data breach prevention and cures

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s