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 collaborative is focusing first on exposure notification apps that use the Google Apple Exposure Notification system API – and will subsequently expand to other testing, tracing and isolation challenges.
Its first initiatives – COVID Shield and COVID Green – are deployed right now in Canada and Ireland, respectively, and in a few U.S. states.
Both apps are available for other public health agencies and their IT partners – able to be customized to their own individual needs – and will soon be joined by other open source projects hosted by LFPH, officials said.
THE LARGER TREND
The goal is for open source developers and others in the tech industry to help public health authorities, many of which, despite years of underinvestment, are now having to scale up their tracking capabilities during the pandemic, say Linux Foundation for Public Health officials.
- COVID Shield was developed by more than 40 volunteer developers from Shopify, along with members of the Ontario and Canadian Digital Services.
- COVID Green was created by a team at NearForm in cooperation with the Irish government and, since being rolled out earlier this month by Ireland’s Health Services Executive, has been downloaded by one-third of Irish adults, according to LFPH.
The Linux Foundation Public Health recently hosted a GAEN Symposium focused on the Google Apple Exposure Notification system, and plans to host similar events soon, as well as others focused on UI and UX, localization, and privacy and security, it says. More information can be found at lfph.io.
ON THE RECORD
“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, in a statement. “While we’re excited to launch with two very important open source projects, we think our convening function to enable collaboration to battle this pandemic may be our biggest impact.”
“During this grave global crisis, I’m committed to having all parts of the Linux Foundation community support LFPH,” added Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin. “Open source provides an architecture for global collaboration and that’s what’s needed to build, secure, and sustain critical components of our stressed public health infrastructure.”
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