ADM Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Estonia

New report: 'Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective' by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung – a special issue of the upcoming Automating Society Report 2020, to be published in October.



Country analysis: Estonia

By Maris Männiste

COVID-19 Contact tracing and warning app

Public and private sector consortiums have been called up by the government to discuss and plan the development of a contact tracing and warning app for Estonia. Different options are under consideration with a preference for privacy-enhancing solutions based on consent, such as PEPP-PT, emphasizing the need for cross-border interoperability.

The app is hoped to be ready to be used by August, and is based on Bluetooth technology, notifying users to turn on Bluetooth on their mobile phones.  It will inform the user if they have been in close contact with someone for more than 15 minutes, who already contracted COVID-19. Users themselves will have to provide information about contracting coronavirus. However, it have to will be confirmed by data from other sources (for example, Health Board data or by data from a patient portal).

One Estonian entrepreneur, Keith Siilats, has already developed a contact tracing app for COVID-19, which he argues will conform to the national contact tracing app requirements in the future.

The technology behind the app is similar to technology used in Singapore; however, there is a difference when it comes to what the consortium plans to do with it. According to Priit Tohver, from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonia aims to develop an app where a lot of the data collection and analysis is happening inside the individual’s phone, and citizens can voluntarily share this data with governmental Institutions.

Estonia, like many countries, is also planning to integrate its contact tracing app with Apple and Google’s joint COVID-19 APIs for iOS and Android.

COVID-19 Travel app

The Estonian IT development company Nortal, in cooperation with a German company called Ottonova and inHealth, from the United Arab Emirates, aims to develop a system called the Corona Travel App.

It “matches the official immigration requirements of the traveler’s final destination with the individual health data from the user”, according to the company’s own blog. If the user meets the conditions set for the final destination, a certificate will be sent to him or her, which will be accepted upon arrival by both transport companies and migration authorities. It is hoped that the app will be ready for use by travellers over the next few months.

Immunity Passport

According to Immunity passport homepage, it is an app that will allow people to access their various COVID-19 test results, get a probabilistic assessment of their immunity status and share this information either with employers and officials or family members. Test results are shared via a QR code created by the system to be used for a certain amount of time.

Once scanned, the system shows the necessary health information and a photo of the user for identification. ImmunityPassport aims to give frontline workers more confidence in safer workplaces, and let people who recovered from the disease help caring for older relatives. The project is still in pilot phase.

Data Management System for WHO and Immunity Wallet

A number of Estonian and Finnish software companies have formed a consortium to develop data management systems for the WHO based on the principles of distributed data exchange.

The first project for the WHO based on Estonian digital solutions is called the Immunity wallet and it is being developed by the data security company Guardtime. The project aims to connect databases from 15 to 20 countries and it could be helpful in tracking vaccinations by WHO-supported laboratories.

Download the full report as PDF (1 MB).

Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective is a special issue of the report Automating Society 2020 by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung, to be published in October. Subscribe to the our newsletter to be alerted when the report is out.