Back in June, EU members agreed that their coronavirus tracing apps would need to be interoperable to make it easier to travel during the summer, hoping that this would help to trace contacts across borders to prevent a second wave. While that timeline hasn't quite worked out (summer holidays are over in most countries), the European Commission today has announced that it's finally setting up a standardized interoperability gateway for tracing apps.
The Commission is currently testing the gateway server with tracing app backends in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Latvia. In the future, this will allow people to trace their contacts when traveling across the EU without installing an extra app for their destination.
Like the tracing apps themselves, the gateway is designed to be as privacy-minding as possible. Only pseudonymized, non-identifiable keys generated by the tracking applications will be stored on the server, making the system unable to assign data to individuals. The gateway is developed by T-Systems and SAP, the latter of which also worked on the German COVID-19 tracing app.
The European Commission expects that the backend will be functional in October, following extensive rounds of testing. It's a bummer that the gateway couldn't be finished in time for summer, which brought a slew of new infections to the continent, but it's a step in the right direction nonetheless, even if the effectiveness of tracing apps is up for debate at the current number of users.
- European Commission