German government appears to have opted for PEPP-PT

In addition to Pepp-PT, the federal government recently examined the rival D3PT (Decentralized Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing) approach and a solution already used in Austria by Accenture. All approaches are based on Bluetooth. Now the Handelsblatt newspaper quoted Tankred Schipanski, digital policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, as saying that the Ministry of Health of department head Jens Spahn (CDU) had chosen Pepp-PT from three possible technical platforms. In other words: Bluetooth is now system relevant.

Ministry of Health of department head Jens Spahn (CDU) had chosen bluetooth based Pepp-PT
Ministry of Health of department head Jens Spahn (CDU) had chosen bluetooth based Pepp-PT

The favored PEPP-PT itself is not an application, but a kind of multinational working group that is developing a corresponding tracing protocol. The name stands for Pan European Privacy Protecting Proximity Tracing. Members of this working group include the French research institute IRINA and the German Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Their jointly developed protocol is called ROBERT for ROBust and privacy-preserating proximity tracing protocol. It could be used in European proximity tracing apps in the future.

In addition and within PEPP-PT, other initiatives are working on ideas for Bluetooth-based proximity tracing. One of these is runner-up DP-3T (Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing). The fact that this initiative is not as well known to the general public as the PEPP-PT project is perhaps due to the fact that PEPP-PT – among many others – has the strategic communications consultancy Hering Schuppener as a member. The company was previously active for Volkswagen, for example, to mitigate the consequences of the Dieselgate scandal in 2015.

D3PT plans to store the data decentrally on the users’ smartphones. In contrast, the concept favored by the German government relies on an “all-knowing” central server. This central server is criticised because a centralised solution always invites abuse, some experts say. In fact, users must trust that their pseudonymised data will only be used to trace chains of infection. And that this server and the implementations that access it are secure against external attacks. But Mr. Schipanski says: “What matters to me is not so much a technological beauty contest, but that the app makes an effective contribution to overcoming the crisis.”

Regardless of which concept will actually prevail in the end, Bluetooth advances to the unofficial status of a system relevant technology. Bluetooth plays a central role in both approaches. Bluetooth as a wireless technology standard is now on everyone’s lips and will help to fight the pandemic through proximity-based contact tracing. Highly qualified people around the world are currently  working to overcome the still open challenges that Bluetooth offers in connection with contact and people tracing. The output will be great and the development work of so many people will give an extra boost to the technology: Bluetooth will come out of the crisis more compatible, more open and more accurate.

The integration of various functions and services will become even less complex, especially due to the cooperation between Apple and Google. In the end, the end customer who wants to install an asset tracking solution or person tracking or indoor navigation will benefit massively from this development work during the crisis.

The experts at Favendo follow the development very closely and take over information and in turn share their own results and adapt their work. All for better solutions and better business when the crisis is over. We are in contact with the Pepp-PT consortium since April 4th and have been working intensively with the internally provided information since then. We are evaluating where our expertise can be applied and at the same time how we can integrate the open source Pepp-PT logic into our own solutions. We will be ready.

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