Aruba tests blockchain-enabled COVID credential app

working with SITA and, has tested a new app to enable visitors to
share their COVID health status privately and securely on their mobile device. The
goal is to enable tourists to safely move about the island wile preserving
their privacy, eliminating fraud and giving the government the ability to
revoke that access if conditions change.

The partners
conducted the pilot with volunteers who were visiting the island for a poker
tournament last week.

The Aruba
Health App uses blockchain technology to create a unique, digital credential
for each visitor.

requires all visitors to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72
hours of flying to the island. 

Using the
app, testing labs can send results directly to the traveler in their mobile
device, and the traveler can then share those results through the app with the
Aruba Health Department. Once the health department verifies the results, the
app displays a QR code that can be scanned by staff at hotels, restaurants and
other sites to confirm a negative result before allowing entry.

The data is
kept in a personal digital wallet that can only be unlocked and shared by the
traveler. Blockchain is used to communicate and verify the credential is valid.

director Gus Pina says the solution is secure and seamless for travelers and
also eliminates the need for staff at hotels, restaurants and other places
tourists visit to see health data or to interpret the latest COVID rules. 

“The hospitality
staff were uncomfortable with handling private data, looking at medical records,”
he says.

“And protocols
have been changing so fast, in terms of what’s valid, what’s not valid. So the approach
we took was to separate the medical information from the concept of trust. We wanted
to present to the hospitality staff, as you’re going around the island, whether
the ministry of health trusts this person to be COVID-free and to be following
the protocols.”

The ministry
of health can also revoke the trusted traveler credential instantly in the app,
for example if the country’s COVID status changes in any way.

“If there’s
an outbreak, if there’s a mutation and you need different shot or booster, then
that trust can be revoked until you remediate the situation, then you can get
the trusted traveler credential back,” Pina says.

Now that the pilot is complete, SITA is
hoping to extend use of the app in Aruba and in other locations.

“The Aruba Health App is
fundamental in balancing the dual challenges of reopening our island to tourism
while managing the risks of COVID-19. By providing a trusted traveler
credential, we can be sure that visitors have the right documentation needed to
move freely around the island while making the verification of that trusted
status easy without having to divulge personal information. That is a
revolutionary step forward,” says Dangui Oduber, Aruba’s minister of tourism,
public health and sport.