With the use of blockchain technology, Singapore has effectively utilized worldwide interoperability for health documents
HealthCerts, a fusion of cryptographic hashes, blockchain-powered tech, privacy protection, and proof identity, is a set of open-source digital standards utilized to issue digital COVID-19 test result certificates.
Developed in conjunction with the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health (MOH), this new standard will help facilitate and hasten travelers’ clearing at immigration checkpoints both locally and internationally.
How It Works
From March 10 onwards, travelers who go through a pre-departure COVID-19 test at selected authorized clinics in Singapore will receive their results digitally in the form of an automatically loaded certificate into HealthCerts.
This can be displayed in the form of an attachment or URL link to the digital certificate. Subsequently, these travelers will have to upload their digital certificate to a separate website called Notarise. This website enables locally-issued certificates to be formally endorsed by the MOH so that they can be recognized at Singapore’s Changi Airport and foreign airports.
Upon completing this process, travelers will receive another digital pre-departure test certificate containing a QR code via email and the SingPass mobile application. Every local in Singapore has a SingPass that stands for Singapore Personal Access and is the digital identity of every Singaporean, allowing each Singaporean to gain secure access to a plethora of government and private sector services online and in person.
Upon reaching the immigration checkpoint at airports, travelers can then present the notarized certificate displaying the QR code either in a hard copy format or as a digital copy for verification purposes. By utilizing the platform Verify, airline crew and immigration authorities will check on the digital certificate’s authenticity by merely scanning the QR code. The in-built system within the platform can determine if the certificate was tampered with or notarised by the MOH.
The Larger Trend
In the wake of COVID-19, countries worldwide have tightened healthcare measures at their borders, requiring passengers to prove a negative COVID-19 test or, in some cases, a COVID-19 vaccination record took before the flight before being allowed to board the plane.
However, in certain countries in Europe, such as Brazil, France, and the UK, there has been a sharp rise in the number of fake COVID-19 certificates available on the black market. This undermines governments’ efforts to put a tight rein on healthcare checks to mitigate the spread of the disease.
As such, digital systems such as HealthCerts would inevitably become increasingly popular over time as globally; governments would seek ways to eradicate such issues and eventually open up air travel once more safely.
For The Record
GovTech mentioned that it has “open-sourced the HealthCerts schema, and the code for the issuance, verification, certificate storage, and display modules, which facilitates wider adoption by private sector companies or other governments,” allowing for other countries to adopt similar systems.
“Only this hash is needed to check the authenticity and validity of the digital certificate,” Smart Nation and Digital Government Group added, emphasizing that the individual’s data will remain secure as only a hash which will serve as a digital fingerprint is published to the blockchain once it is issued.
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