ETSI’s new group on COVID-19 tracing apps interoperability moving fast

ETSI COVID-19 group

The ETSI E4P group“Europe for Privacy-Preserving Pandemic Protection”, launched a month ago has already held two meetings. The work of ISG E4P aims to facilitate the development of backward-compatible and interoperable proximity tracing applications to be used to combat pandemics by helping to break viral transmission chains. 

The kick-off meeting of the group took place on 26 May with a record audience of 50 people online representing some of the 36 global organizations that comprise the group to date. Ranging from government and EC representatives, vendors, operators and research bodies to ethics, legal and cybersecurity players, members elected Edgar Guillot, Orange, as the Chair of the group and Miguel Garcia-Menendez, Alastria and Stéphane Dalmas, INRIA, as Vice-Chairs. 

The second meeting on 9 June laid the groundwork for priorities and confirmed the tight deadline of the end of the summer to deliver the first report out of the three work items approved. 

A comparison of existing pandemic contact tracing systems is underway and will examine the similarities and differences of the various available or upcoming approaches, in terms of degree of interoperability, security aspects, use of a centralized or decentralized approach, use of particular methods and technologies, support of different device platforms, epidemiological value and privacy aspects

Another work undertaken deals with the requirements for pandemic contact tracing systems using mobile devices. The use cases will address the key aspects of the system (reliability, accuracy, timeliness, privacy, security, etc.). Systems should be practical to deploy, used by the majority of users voluntarily, compliant with the applicable laws and regulations, and provide seamless continuity for people travelling between countries. 

As for the interoperability framework, it will allow the centralized and decentralized modes of operation to fully interoperate. It will cover interoperability between ROBERT, NHSX, DP3T, DESIRE, ProntoC2 and other applications/protocols as well as the different device platforms, some of which may emerge also during ISG E4P work. 

The first Bluetooth-based European application was launched in France on 2 June (StopCovid) and was downloaded more than 600,000 times on that day both from Apple Store and Google Play (Android), according to the French government. So, time is of the essence…

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