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Covid passport as a tool for economic growth

Table of Contents

Mikel Sánchez

Veridas Chief Technology Officer

Introduction

The global state of alarm caused by the coronavirus pandemic has altered our lives in many ways. We have all had to modify our routines, even the most deeply rooted, to effectively combat this virus that has caused such an economic impact.

One of the main consequences of COVID-19 has been both global and local mobility reduction. Since the beginning of the pandemic, tighter border controls and limitations have been a must to avoid the expansion of the virus.

With the arrival of the vaccines at the end of last year, we glimpsed the return to normal life, however, maintaining a high level of security is still and will be vital to achieve this. Not only for personal or mental health wellbeing but also for the creation of the required environment for the economy to start recovering or even thinking of potential growth.

In this sense, one of the main levers of economic recovery for specific countries is the possibility of relaunching tourism, undoubtedly one of the most affected economic sectors. It should be remembered that foreign tourism accounts for a large part of GDP in most European countries, such as Spain, where it represents 6%, Croatia, 20%, or Portugal, with 10%.

Having this in mind, a Covid Passport project has been forged within the European community with information on vaccinations received or tests performed by the carrier. But, is this enough? How will we know that the passport corresponds to who it claims to be its rightful owner? Without including additional security measures, could this passport become a safe-conduct for people who are not vaccinated? How are the authorities able to assess the validity of a PCR test performed by a foreign entity or clinic?

A private biometric passport, that includes information on our vaccination, will allow for an efficient and secure way to gradually open borders with the confidence that the virus will not be massively spread again.

Biometric passport: private and irreversible

A biometric passport will provide security and privacy to citizens. It is critical to reinforce security controls while keeping an eye on usability if Europe wants to achieve a great adoption of this new proposal by the general population.

The use of facial biometrics technology should be considered to associate each health passport to a natural person through their biometrics in a completely private way and easily verifiable by the authorities.

Through a simple onboarding process, performed remotely and where all the evidence (selfie, ID & required medical information) is captured, an irreversible biometric vector would be generated and encrypted into a QR code. The credential, like an ID card, will only be in the hands of the patient, and will not need to be stored for verification by the authorities. Instead, verification could be carried out with a mobile device by scanning the QR code and taking a picture of the owner to compare the information.

This process of transforming evidence into a QR code, making sure that individual carrying that ID is who they say they are, will be carried out by cloud-based neural networks, converting all this information into an irreversible mathematical hash.

das-FaceQR is a service offered by Veridas (was patented globally in 2017) that enables the authentication of a person using facial biometrics. The biometric comparison process is performed between a facial image and an abstract representation of the person’s face stored in a private, biometric QR format.

It is worth mentioning that this entire process is certified regarding security and privacy at all levels e.g. through iBeta certification for ISO 30107-3 for advanced liveness detection capability and management system is fully certified under the ISO 27001. This solution has been built under the most strict data privacy requirements.

Health Certificate Process

Veridas suggests the following two steps for the generation and subsequent verification of the biometric passport:
1. Health certificate generation:

Health professionals working for certified health organizations are allowed to generate health certificates. These certificates contain information about the traveler’s health status, the health professional and organization issuing the certificate (employee & organization IDs), and the timestamp of creation.
2. Health status verification:

 The authentication of the Private Biometric Health Passport by using biometrics, provides evidence that health status belongs to the individual that is using it without any doubt, removing any fraud or impersonation risk.

Main Advantages

· Privacy. No data is stored in the provider’s servers. The traveler is the only owner of his/her data. All data in the Private Biometric Pass is encrypted. This data can only be decrypted by Supplier’s ’ API, and only if a selfie of the legitimate holder is received in the request together with a PBP reading. Therefore, even the loss of a PBP does not expose any personal data. No person nor system, not even supplier’s biometric engines, can reconstruct the facial image of the spectator from the PBP.

· Security. Two-factor authentication, checking something the user has (PBP) and something the user is (face biometrics). The face recognition engine is subject to constant improvement in terms of precision and liveness detection and is presented to continuous evaluation by the NIST, assessed as one of the top engines in the world.

· Global & Accessible. The proposed solution to generate private biometric passes is cloud-based, fully international, and suitable for developed and developing countries. The private biometric passes can be presented in physical or electronic form to the biometric terminals.

· Health Safety. The proposed solution allows the creation of a private biometric pass that allows airlines and security staff to verify if a person has been qualified by a health professional as healthy, infected, immune. etc. This health information is univocally linked to the credential holder through face biometrics. The proposed solution allows each government and airline to use different travel rules depending on the country of origin, destination, as well as health check status and date. This technology can be used for the control of infectious diseases other than Covid-19.

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