After launching in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, NearForm’s app based on Apple and Google technology is arriving in some US states next month.
Contact tracing is a long-established form of finding out who might’ve been exposed to a disease by asking someone with a diagnosis who else they’ve recently been in contact with. The digital version is effectively the same as the traditional approach, but instead of health professionals asking questions, your phone keeps an anonymized record of the people you’ve crossed paths with, using Bluetooth and a dedicated app, and it lets you know if you need to get a test.
WHEN YOU STREAM the latest Netflix show, you fire up servers on Amazon Web Services, most of which run on Linux. When a F-16 fighter takes off, three Kubernetes clusters run to keep the jet’s software running. When you visit a website, any website, chances are it’s run on Node.js. Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and many other technologies that silently permeate our lives have one thing in common: Open source.
Open source is a technology development and distribution methodology, where the codebase and all development—from setting a roadmap to building new features, fixing bugs, and writing documentation—is done in public. A governing body (a group of hobbyists, a company, or a foundation) publicly manages this work, which is most often done in a public repository on either GitHub or GitLab. Open source has two important, and somewhat counterintuitive, advantages: speed and security.
The Linux Foundation, which supports open-source innovation in blockchain tech, launched the Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative (LFPHI) at the end of July. The LFPHI’s goal is to promote the use of open source by public health authorities, which can be scrutinized by anyone, to fight not just COVID-19 but future pandemics as well.
Contact tracing—monitoring who’s getting COVID-19 and tracking down anyone who might have been in contact with that person so they can quarantine—has long been considered a key to slowing and eventually ending the pandemic.
Health departments around the country (and world) have been staffing up on human contact tracers. Meanwhile, in April, Google and Apple announced they were teaming up to develop a way to do the job through smartphones. The result, released in May, is the Google and Apple Exposure Notification system.
The Linux Foundation is joining the battle against COVID-19 with a program aimed at building on top of the foundational contact tracing work being done jointly by Google LLC and Apple Inc.
The Linux Foundation Public Health initiative is launching with seven premier members and two hosted projects targeted at notifying public health officials of coronavirus exposure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge to our society, and every industry is trying its best to adapt and combat this public health crisis. The IT industry has also come up with technology-based solutions to help public health authorities contain the coronavirus. Continue reading the English translation.
The code for Ireland’s Covid Tracker app has been published as part of an open source programme to help global public health authorities tackle the pandemic.
Ireland’s Health Service Executive has provided the code to the newly established Linux Foundation public health initiative which aims to use open source software to help public health authorities around the world combat Covid-19 and future epidemics.
Fran Thompson, chief information officer of the HSE, said: “We are pleased to contribute Covid Green, the open source code behind Ireland’s Covid Tracker app, to Linux Foundation Public Health.”
Ireland’s COVID-19 contact tracing app has been so successful that officials from other countries, including the US, want to use it.
Ireland’s app, which launched on July 7, and is called COVID Tracker, was developed by a software company called NearForm. It reached 1.3 million downloads in its first week, roughly 37% of people in Ireland over 16 years old.
A day after the app launched, NearForm’s CEO Cian Ó Maidín tweeted the company had found “a solution for contact tracing for governments. The NearForm team can get a national contact tracing system launched in one month.” On July 20, NearForm and Ireland’s health authority, the Health Service Executive (HSE), donated the code to an open-source project called the Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative.
The Linux Foundation has launched a new project to harness open source software to help global public health agencies fight back against COVID-19 and prepare for future public health challenges.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative has signed on seven premier members – Cisco, doc.ai, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent and VMware – as it works on two initial projects.
Covid Watch, Kiel University of Applied Sciences, and US Digital Response have also joined as nonprofit associate members.
The Linux Foundation on Monday announced a new initiative to leverage open source tech, including the Apple-Google Exposure Notification API, to combat coronavirus.
At first, the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) project will focus on exposure notification apps that use the Apple-Google API. The framework launched in May 2020, but has yet to see widespread adoption globally.
Along with seven initial primary members, the LFPH initiative is also making its debut with two hosted exposure notification projects dubbed COVID Shield and COVID Green. Both are said to be launching in Canada, Ireland and several U.S. states.