The Linux Foundation Launches Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative To Combat COVID-19

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  • The initiative will initially focus on exposure notification applications that use the Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system
  • It will then be expanding to support all aspects of PHA’s testing, tracing, and isolation activities

The Linux Foundation has launched a new initiative named Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) initiative to help public health authorities (PHAs) around the world combat COVID-19 and future epidemics. It has been launched with seven members -Cisco, doc.ai, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent, and VMware and two hosted exposure notifications projects, COVID ShieldTM and COVID GreenTM, which are presently being deployed in Canada, Ireland, and several U.S. states

It said that LFPH will initially focus on exposure notification applications that use the Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system. It will then be expanding to support all aspects of PHA’s testing, tracing, and isolation activities.

Dan Kohn, LFPH general manager said, “To catalyse 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. 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.”

Available for other PHAs and their IT partners to use and customise

COVID Shield was developed by a volunteer team at Shopify and is in the process of being deployed in Canada. COVID Green was developed by a team at NearForm as part of the Irish Government’s response to COVID-19. It has received high adoption of over one-third of the country’s adults since being deployed by Ireland’s Health Services Executive.

Both apps are available for other PHAs and their IT partners to use and customise. It will be soon be joined by other open source projects hosted by LFPH. COVID Watch, Kiel University of Applied Sciences, and US Digital Response have also joined as nonprofit associate members.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said, “During this grave global crisis, I’m committed to having all parts of the Linux Foundation community support LFPH. 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. The Linux Foundation has long enabled cross-industry collaboration in over a dozen verticals and Dan Kohn, who led the Cloud Native Computing Foundation to rapid growth that defined a multi-billion dollar industry, is an ideal choice to lead this effort.”

Privacy-preserving and cross-compatible exposure notification apps

Along with COVID Shield and COVID Green, an earlier cross-industry collaboration effort, the TCN Coalition, is merging into LFPH. It is a global community of technologists supporting the development of privacy-preserving and cross-compatible exposure notification apps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was initially founded to ensure cross-border interoperability and to reduce duplication of development efforts. Now, it includes support to public health authorities in their engagements with app-building teams and IT providers.

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