Interoperability solution for mobile tracing and warning apps agreed by Member States

Member States, with the support of the European Commission, have agreed on a set of technical specifications to ensure a safe exchange of information between national contact tracing apps based on a decentralised architecture. This concerns the vast majority of tracing apps that were already – or are about to be – launched in the EU. Once the technical solution is deployed, such national apps will work seamlessly when users travel to another EU country which also follows the decentralised approach. This means an important additional step towards interoperability of mobile apps for tracing coronavirus infections, as Member States begin to lift travel restrictions across borders in time for summer vacation.

Most Member States have decided to launch mobile apps to complement manual contact tracing of the spread of coronavirus. The great majority of national approved apps are based on a decentralised architecture, which means that the arbitrary identifiers of users that were detected for a certain duration in proximity remain on the phone itself, and will be checked by the phone against the identifiers of users reported to be infected. The technical specification for interoperability will allow these checks to be done also for users travelling from other Member States, without the need to download several national apps.

The proximity information shared between apps will be exchanged in an encrypted way that prevents the identification of an individual person, in line with the strict EU guidelines on data protection for apps; no geolocation data will be used. To support further streamlining of the system, the Commission will set up a gateway service,an interface to efficiently receive and pass on relevant information from national contact tracing apps and servers. This will minimise the amount of data exchanged and thus reduce users' data consumption.

The technical specifications agreed today build on the Interoperability guidelines agreed in May, setting the general principles.

Next steps

Member States will already be able to update apps to permit information exchange between national, decentralised apps as soon as they are technically ready. The Commission continues to support the work of Member States on extending interoperability also to centralised tracing apps.

On 7 May 2020, PSCE held a webinar entitled“Phasing out of the confinement measures – How can IT tools help make the transition?”, in which topics related to mobile applications and social tracing were discussed. If you did not have the opportunity of watching it live, you can do it through this link.

Upcoming PSCE Webinar: Crisis Management, Surveillance, and Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era

After the great success of our first webinar, PSCE is pleased to announce the second webinar “Crisis Management, Surveillance and Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era! This virtual event, co-organised with the Lancaster University, will occur on June 23th at 11h CEST (Brussels time) and it will feature speakers from the Lancaster University, Free University of Amsterdam, Imperial College of London, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

COVID-19 has accelerated implementation of digital technologies to support containment of the pandemic. It is in the public interest to allow emergency exceptions for data collection and processing. However, this should not be at the cost of individual freedoms and civil liberties that underpin the functioning of democracy. And, to become effective, many of the technologies require public trust and the trust of emergency practitioners. This webinar explores how to support innovation that is ambitious and sensitive with a view to digital ethics.

Furthermore, this webinar builds up on a call for contributions published on the Journal of Crisis and Contingency Management, which is open until the 3rd of July. As such, we encourage all interested parties to submit their thoughts and ideas while contributing to a pertinent and timely discussion. You can read the call for contributions here.

Agenda

11.00: Welcome by PSCE

11.05: Context and Motivation — Kees BOERSMA, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

11.15State of the Art — Monika BUSCHER, Lancaster University, UK

11.25: How to safeguard autonomy and why it matters — Rafael A. CALVO, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK

11.45Ethically conscious use of data and apps for pandemic response — Marcello IENCA and James SCHEIBNER, Health Ethics and Policy Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zürich

Q&A (10 min)  

The WEBINAR is free of charge and will take place on WEBEX. You will be provided with the link once you register.

REGISTER HERE

Please note that If you encounter issues registering via googleforms, you may register by contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RescEU’s budget to be reinforced with 2 billion euros over 2021-2027

The Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic announced on June 2 that the budget of rescEU - part of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism - will be significantly reinforced with €2 billion over 2021-2027 to create reserves of strategic equipment to cover health emergencies, forest fire outbreaks, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents or other major emergencies. As such the total budget for the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism will top €3,1 billion

“When the coronavirus hit Europe, there was a lack of many kinds of medical equipment across Member States. Yet the EU did not have the power or the means to offer equipment; we could only encourage cooperation. Citizens expect the EU to act during a crisis. We all need to be better prepared and learn the lessons. rescEU will be massively strengthened to leave no EU country behind during a crisis,” said Lenarcic.

Under the Commission’s proposal:

  • The EU will create a reserve of crisis response capacities (including medical equipment, medical evacuation planes, field hospitals, firefighting planes and helicopters) at EU level that can be mobilised quickly for use in all Member States.
  • The EU will, for the first time, be able to directly procure equipment, ensuring a safety net of emergency response assets that can support Member States in overwhelming crisis situations. 
  • The EU will fully finance the development and operational costs of rescEU capabilities.
  • The Commission has also proposed a substantial boost of its global humanitarian budget by €5 billion, allocating in total €14,8 billion to better respond to growing needs worldwide in the next EU long-term budget 2021-2027.

Webinar: Funding Opportunities for Disaster Resilience, May 20th

On May 20th, don’t miss PSCE’s president David Lund and PSCE’s Secretary-General Marie-Christine Bonnamour presenting the webinar “Pre-normative research and demonstration for disaster-resilient societies. Sub-topic 3: First aids vehicles deployment, training, maintenance, logistic and remote centralized coordination means”, organised by the project SEREN4.

The webinar, from 14h until 15h, will cover important aspects that will help proposal developers to better design their bids and in line with the current needs of the safety and security sector in the area of disaster resilience.

SEREN4 consortium is gathering the national points of contact for secure societies. You can register for the webinar here.

PSCE’s successful social tracing webinar!

Public Safety Communications Europe (PSCE) is happy to announce that the webinar “Phasing out of the confinement measures – How can IT tools help make the transition?” on May 7, was a big success!

Our speakers - Ms Martina Karl, from the Technical University of Munich, Mr Gerry Foitik, from the Austrian Red Cross, and Mr Peter Eberl, Deputy Head of Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy, DG CONNECT - were very eloquent and articulated, allowing the public to be more informed about the social tracing topic, in particular regarding privacy issues related to the mobile applications used to tackle the corona virus. Besides principles and general features, details were also provided on the implementation of the STOPP CORONA app set-up by the Austrian Red Cross that went live on March 25.

Overall, we welcomed nearly 100 enthusiastic participants - amongst them18 Member States were represented - who stated the webinar as being “very useful and informative”. During the webinar and after each speaker finished presenting, PSCE moderated a small forum of Q&A. 

In the meantime, stay tuned for our second webinar, we will shortly announce more details!