The European Commission has begun testing an interoperability gateway service for national contact tracing and warning apps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the continent.
The European Commission’s interoperability gateway service linking national apps across the EU aims to fully exploit the potential of mobile proximity contact tracing and warning apps to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across Europe, and has begun testing the infrastructure this week. Test runs have been initiated between the backend servers of the official apps from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Latvia, and a newly established gateway server.
A cohesive approach to tracing in Europe
The setup of the interoperability gateway service follows the agreement by Member States on technical specifications to deliver a European solution to ensure a safe exchange of information between the backends of national contact tracing and warning apps based on a decentralised architecture. This covers almost all such apps launched in the EU.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Single Market, said: “Many Member States have implemented national contact tracing and warning applications. It is now time to make them interact with each other.”
The gateway will ensure that apps will work seamlessly across borders, meaning users will only need to install one app and will still be able to report a positive infection test or receive an alert, even if they travel abroad.
The gateway will efficiently receive and pass on arbitrary identifiers between national apps to minimise the amount of data exchanged and thus reduce users’ data consumption. No information other than arbitrary keys, generated by the national apps, will be handled by the gateway. The information exchanged is pseudonymised, encrypted, kept to the minimum, and only stored as long as necessary to trace back infections. It does not allow the identification of individual persons.
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, added: “Coronavirus tracing and warning apps working across borders can be powerful tools in our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. With cases on the rise again, apps can complement other measures like increased testing and manual contact tracing. If used widely enough, they can help us break the chains of transmission. We will not stop fighting on all fronts against the pandemic.”
After testing, the gateway will start to be operational in October.