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Authorities Around the World Come Together to Fight COVID-19
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Authorities Around the World Come Together to Fight COVID-19 

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit advocating mass innovation through open source, released a new movement to use open source technologies to assist public health authorities all over the globe to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and future diseases. This initiative called the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) has already gained seven premier members like Geometer, NearForm, VMware, Cisco, doc.ai, IBM and Tencent. It also includes two hosted exposure notifications projects called COVID Shield and COVID Green, which are currently being deployed in Canada, Ireland, and several U.S. states.

The movement will focus on exposure notification applications that use the Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system and will be extended to provide support in all aspects of public health authorities’ tracing, testing and isolation activities.

“To catalyze this open source development, Linux Foundation Public Health is building a global community of leading technology and consulting companies, public health authorities, epidemiologists and other public health specialists, privacy and security experts, and individual developers,” said Dan Kohn, LFPH general manager.

The project, COVID Shield was initially developed by a volunteer team at Shopify and is in the process of being launched in Canada. On the other hand, COVID Green was developed by one team at NearForm which was originally the Irish Government’s response to COVID-19. Since COVID Green’s launch, it has already been adopted by over one-third of the country’s adult population. Both of these applications are made available for health authorities and their IT support partners to use and customize according to their needs. These will be soon joined by other open source projects hosted by LFPH.

Fran Thompson, Chief Information Officer of Ireland’s Health Service Executive said, “This app is a great demonstration of innovation within the Irish health sector combined with the IT capabilities of the Irish software industry. We’re immensely proud of the work we’ve undertaken in partnership with NearForm in responding to the pandemic. We are looking forward to collaborating with other public health authorities around the world via LF Public Health to assist them in quickly replicating our approach while learning from their experiences.”

To add to these projects, a cross-industry collaboration effort is also formed between the TCN Coalition and the LFPH. The TCN Coalition is a worldwide community of technologists who are supporting the development of privacy-preserving and cross-compatible exposure notification apps during the pandemic. It was initially built to ensure cross-border interoperability and to minimize duplication of development efforts. The coalition has evolved to include the support of public health authorities in their engagements with app-building teams and IT providers.

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