Blogi • 29.10.2020

World-wide secure data exchange – becoming a reality

World-wide secure data exchange – becoming a reality

WHO is piloting a world-wide secure data exchange.  Prime Minister of Estonia and World Health Organization (WHO) signed an agreement on 5th of October 2020 to start working on a digital immunization certificate and interoperability projects. The project includes implementation of X-Road and Gofore is one of the private companies that are willing to provide their help.

This project might initiate innovation beyond what has been possible! This might give a start to world-wide secure data exchange and unleash world-wide synergy to build stronger societies and solve new-era challenges.

Under the surface, it may look like something relevant only for techies, but this could not be further from the truth. These developments will change both our ways of working, and more importantly, how we think about and define trust. Trust is the core of every interaction and cooperation. It is important and needs attention. World-wide secure data exchange will teach us to trust the information that comes from a valid source through a secure channel.

Let’s imagine what this might mean for the citizens and the societies around the world!

If we could build trust between almost all organizations in the world, then it will have the potential of allowing us to overcome some of the biggest challenges of our time. It might help our societies push back against the polarisation and fake news, and to join our forces to achieve sustainable development goals when optimising for the world as a whole.

The most common fear is that the world-wide secure data exchange would enable a super database and an organisation with ultimate power? The reality is exactly the opposite. The solution will build grounds for a new way of collaboration, where the data will stay distributed and organisations will remain independent. We are building the foundation for a solution, where a third party could give the confirmation in a standardised way if the data is originated from a trusted source.

Where to start?

In an agile world, the first steps should be focused on tangible results in a short period of time, so we rapidly build, learn, and improve. We show-case a few potential services to be created. These help to explain the logic behind the solution we are creating together. We hope these also help you ideate and get started.

Vaccination passport check

In current times, we hope that we soon will see a reliable vaccine for COVID-19. We see governments struggling every day to make traveling restrictions as specific as possible and to avoid total lockdown. What if there would be a chance to easily prove if one is vaccinated or not. If the vaccine is reliable, then the ones who are vaccinated are not considered a health hazard. How to know if one is vaccinated or not? What if citizens would have a tool to prove that they have been vaccinated? What if you had a chance to confirm if the authority who made the vaccination is approved by WHO. Such checks could improve the life of both people who are vaccinated and the ones that are not. We would need to do less testing, which will make waiting periods for receiving access to testing faster. That could give us totally new opportunities for how to arrange and manage our lives in a post-COVID world.

Digitally verified proof for personal data

In everyday life, we often need to present data about ourselves. For example, giving evidence of my educational level in a job application, or while shopping, or proving to be a student or a senior citizen to receive discounts.
In such cases, the logic is the same. I present the data about myself. The question is, will a third party trust the integrity of the presented data. It is rather easy to make a A4 paper look like a certificate; especially when we have never heard of the institution that supposedly issued it.

Creating a system where all certificates could be validated becomes much easier if we can simplify the equation. In this new scenario, we can. We are building the foundation for a solution whereby a third party could issue the confirmation in a standardised and trustworthy way if the data has originated from a trusted source. Such validation would basically claim that “organization X exists and has issued document Y”, “organization X is authorized to issue this specific type of document”.

The desired mindset change in this scenario would be, that if you can trust the source, then you can trust the data. And did you notice that the third party will not receive direct access to my personal data. I will be empowered to present this information in a way that assures that I have not changed the facts. 

Right to represent

Imagine if you could check the representation rights of organisations online, free of charge. Why would you need to do it? It is common in the public sector and public procurements that the representation rights are properly checked. It is not so common in everyday B2B business, especially when the transaction amounts are rather small and the number of transactions is rather high. Does it mean that the private sector does not need to know their customers and cooperation partners on the same level of trust? Or is it because the risks of doing business with unknown parties are considered lower than the gains from the transaction?

From the implementation point of view, the best part of this service is that business registries around the world have that data already. Based on current best practices, names and birth dates do not require the consent of the data subject.

If you had the opportunity for potentially automated representation rights checking, free of charge, it would streamline doing business anywhere. If these types of checks become widely used, then it might become one of the strongest anti-terrorism or anti-money laundering tools.

These are just some of the first steps that would take us closer to a vision of building stronger and more trustworthy societies, together.

What is your dream, that we could make happen, together?!

Tuuli Pärenson

Tuuli Pärenson

Tuuli is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of implementing change and digital transformations in both public and private sector. She is skilled in digital government and governance solutions. At Gofore she is responsible for international business development and leadership in Gofore Estonia.

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