ETSI unveils Report on comparison of worldwide Covid-19 pandemic contact tracing systems, a first step toward interoperability

  • Alastria, which holds the vice-chair of the E4P group, has led the drafting of the document in which the members of the working group have collaboratively participated.

Sophia Antipolis, 2nd February 2021: The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched the planet health systems to their limits and tested the measures adopted to alleviate difficulties. Contact tracking or tracing to identify infected people was one of them. However, contact tracing based on interviews with identified or suspected patients, presents known weaknesses from previous pandemics. Turning to digital means in a world where global mobility is the rule was therefore of essence.

ETSI has not been oblivious to the mitigation of the pandemic and its group called “Europe for Privacy-Preserving Pandemic Protection” (ISG E4P) releases today its first Report GR E4P 002, entitled “Comparison of existing pandemic contact tracing systems”.

The Report includes the characterization of a representative series of ‘apps’, from among those currently available, ranging from the United States to Japan, as well as a list of the most relevant existing digital contact tracing methods. The study also offers a comparative analysis of these different methods and, finally, outlines a series of challenges that are yet to be tackled.

“Our work today is to enable better global pandemic contact tracing solutions in the future. Unfortunately, this pandemic is not the first and will not be the last one the world will go through. As many of us commute from one country to another very often for business and leisure, interoperable applications represent one of the mitigation measures that can serve all citizens,” comments Miguel Garcia-Menendez, Vice Chair of the ETSI E4P ISG. “We have already identified a series of challenges in our report and compared a number of different technologies and protocols. There is still a lot to achieve and we welcome all ETSI members and non-members to join the effort”, he adds.

ETSI E4P ISG’s next steps are focused on finalizing the definition of general requirements of this type of solutions; making an analysis of the mechanisms related to the devices (essentially smart phones) used; specifying the requirements of the back-end systems involved; and, finally, releasing a reference framework for the interoperability of the different existing digital tracing methods. Future stages will evaluate how to improve the systems specified and explore and develop new ones.

The Report is available for download here.

About ETSI

ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society.  We are a not-for-profit body with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from 65 countries and five continents. Members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization (ESO). For more information please visit us at https://www.etsi.org/.

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