The internationally used V-Health Passport has the potential to scale aviation and other sectors back to normal in a fast and secure way.
V-Health Passport, the product of British technology company VST Enterprises (VSTE), was a world first in April 2020. The product is in use across the world in education, the workplace, leisure centres, aviation, maritime, construction, and more. Today, it remains the only solution that combines test and vaccination solutions with other needs such as event and travel ticketing.
There are many reports of COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates being counterfeited. VSTE’s CEO, Louis-James Davis, warns of the very real and serious threats from the use of health passports that are based on unsafe barcode and QR code technology. These risks range from infringing safe social distancing to potential data breaches from using these less secure legacy code scanning technologies.
On 10 February 2021, in a virtual broadcast hosted by Plug & Play, a panel of industry leaders from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Virgin Atlantic, the European Parliament, Corporacion America Uruguay, Vienna International Airport, Star Alliance and Denver International Airport, discussed the main challenges surrounding the rollout of the technology. In an excellent write-up of the event, Future Travel Experience (FTE) summarised the main issues raised by the panel. The FTE summary, which mentions V-Health Passport, can be found here.
FTE’s key takeaways from the panel event, with VSTE’s response to each, are as follows:
The importance of interoperability
- There will not be a single, globally recognised standard for the entire travel industry and beyond, so how will interoperability be addressed?
- Solutions must be versatile across multiple use cases, regardless of phone manufacturer, operating system, COVID-19 test and vaccine types, airlines, and destinations.
- There must be a single solution to help the whole travel chain (airports, rail, ports) and beyond.
- The solution must respect data protection and privacy.
V-Health Passport is built using the VCode software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface (API) from VSTE. This SDK and API can be used by third parties to develop their own VCode-based health passport solutions, allowing maximum interoperability at the front end, while crucially also ensuring maximum security at the back end. This allows others to innovate on the VCode platform for the benefit not just of the entire travel industry, but also for other use cases such as events and entertainment.
While primarily a digital solution, the versatile V-Health Passport allows passports to be created by medical officers for children, vulnerable adults, and those without technology. Paper certificates, lanyard-held printed passes, etc. can also be produced when required. For the African region, signup by mobile phone number is supported for non-smartphone users.
V-Health Passport is GDPR certified and has the potential itself to be the single solution required to help the whole travel chain (airports, rail, ports) and beyond. However, due to the open nature of the SDK and API, this need not be the case as others are free to innovate on the platform.
The urgent need to set common standards
- Without industry-wide standards, the use of different solutions will create a fragmented system, complicating the passenger experience.
- There are multiple travel restrictions and laboratories around the world, and different solutions will be compatible with different ones. How do airlines and passengers cope?
- IATA is working with regulators to set common standards based on a global registry of requirements and a global registry of labs.
A non-centralised front end system would create a fragmented environment. However, industry standardisation around the superior VCode technology would prevent this, thereby supporting an enhanced passenger experience.
To help address this risk of fragmentation, V-Health Passport is part of the Good Health Pass initiative formed by Airports Council International (ACI), Mastercard, IBM, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), as well as several other health passport developers and digital ID security stakeholders. Through the front end and back end of the V-Health Passport solution, labs can talk to each other to share health data and credentials securely.
It is worth noting that V-Health Passport is up to ten seconds faster at scanning than competing solutions. A VCode can also be scanned beyond the safe social distancing of two metres, unlike with the legacy scanning technologies used in these other solutions.
Furthermore, V-Health Passport is a test and vaccine agnostic platform working with all COVID-19 testing and vaccine protocols. It is also the most secure technology of its class in the world due to its use of VCode. Working on a closed-loop system with end-to-end encryption, VCode supports over 300 million unique codes for each person on the planet. VCode technology delivers information using a mixture of geolocation, time, date, and other parameters, making it impossible to hack.
Data minimalisation is key to addressing privacy concerns
- We need a privacy-by-design approach with identity verification secure at all points of the process.
- Data minimalisation is key to protect privacy and civil liberties.
- The industry must compete in a complementary and interoperable way.
- We might not have the time to wait for the best solution.
VSTE supports concerns about data security and data privacy. In fact, V-Health Passport was conceived, created, and tested with security-by-design and privacy-by-design principles at its heart.
All data within the V-Health Passport solution can be withheld on a modular and dynamic basis.
For example, a checkpoint officer would not normally need to see a person’s home address.
Through its use of VCode technology, V-Health Passport offers speed, convenience, safety, and security, and is interoperable through use of the SDK and API.
Unlike competing solutions still in development, V-Health Passport is now nine months old and in use across multiple sectors globally. Considering the impact of the pandemic and the many solutions still being created to help get life back to normal, V-Health Passport is an established and proven technology with a strong record.
It will be impossible to scale operations back to normal without digital health passports
- Some airlines are taking a wait and see approach.
- Manual COVID-19 checking procedures take too long; a digital approach is needed if we are to resume aviation at scale.
- Global standards for a full rollout of digital passports will take time we do not have; we need collaboration and cooperation now.
VSTE agrees that it will be impossible to scale travel and other operations back to normal without global acceptance of the principles behind digital health passport solutions.
Through its participation in the Good Health Pass initiative, as well as it’s offer of its SDK and API to third parties, VSTE is actively collaborating to help the aviation and other industries resume operations at scale. The use of V-Health Passport is making a significant contribution to the safety, mobility, and return to work of the UK economy, helping businesses and employers return their staff to offices, factories and warehouses.
VSTE is working with the UK government and foreign governments to support the use of its technology. The company is active in multiple industries and sectors including the maritime and aviation industries, construction and major infrastructure projects, as well as major national and international sporting events. V-Health Passport is also being used by private COVID-19 testing clinics, manufacturers, and practices.
As a warning to those considering the use of legacy barcode and QR code-based solutions, VSTE CEO Louis-James said: ‘QR codes were originally developed as a scanning technology for close-proximity car parts tracking, a world away from identity, banking, and digital health passport use cases. They were then used to skip the input of website addresses for marketing and promotional purposes. QR codes were never designed with security or privacy in mind. They are simply not fit for such a purpose and should not be used at all in any form for delivery of sensitive information, travel or event tickets, or health passports.’
V-Health Passport is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for ‘VPassport’ and downloading it to your device.