Leading IT consultancies such as IBM and Netcompany are gearing up to develop a digital corona passport for Denmark – touted as the key to resuming travel, business and life as usual.
A corona passport would house detailed data on a patient’s recent medical history – including negative Covid-19 tests, vaccinations and antibodies, etc. All this will combine in a single QR code, which can be scanned at airports, restaurants and other public places to instantly draw up a patient’s status.
Potentially the bedrock of a reopened economy: the solution has been endorsed by Danish Finance Minister Morten Bødskov. Early this month, he announced intentions to have a passport operational in three to four months. The contract to develop the solution will likely be lucrative, and IT consultancies are ready and waiting to pounce.
According to IBM’s public sector lead in Denmark Martin Petersen Lennards, the firm has already been developing a corona passport for months – and will have the app ready to go within a month if give the green light.
Also in the running is Netcompany – a publicly listed Danish IT giant that has already been centrally involved in the country’s pandemic response. The firm developed an app earlier this year, which warns people who have been in close proximity to someone affected by Covid-19.
The app is freely available to the government, and has already been downloaded by more than 2 million people. This is in addition to a corona certificate and app built by Netcompany for the British government last year – in a contract worth €3.5 million. The corona passport will also come with a sizeable fee, and both IBM and Netcompany – two of Denmark’s top 25 consultancies – are rearing to go.
The only remaining obstacles are public concerns around the ethics of such an app, particularly in terms of data privacy. “I understand that such a passport leads to public debate about privacy and medical data,“ noted Netcompany CEO André Rogaczewski.
“But the digitisation of this type of data has been going on for a long time. Let’s make sure we do that in the right way.” Rogaczewski points to the testing requirements so far to show that some of these lines are already blurring.
“I urge my staff to get tested every week if they want to come to the office,” which in itself constitutes an intrusion into the medical privacy of his employees. Any medical history usually requires explicit permission from an employee. But most employees don’t mind submitting a test – reflecting both the urgency of the circumstances as well as the cultural fabric according to Rogaczewski.
“That’s the culture. In care homes and hospitals, it has been the rule for some time that you must be tested before you can visit. Home deliverers, who are huddled together at restaurants, are also requested to be tested before starting work.” Indeed, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederisken has already suggested that Danes be tested at least once a week.
With all these exceptions in place, a corona passport is likely to get the nod in weeks to come – as the only remaining option to kickstart the economy. Vaccination rollouts worldwide are facing delays, while most agree that waiting for an internationally developed corona passport from the EU or the WHO will simply take too much time.
The pressure is on in Denmark to reopen the economy, and leaders are already coming around to a nationally developed passport – good news for Netcompany, IBM and any other IT services firm looking to bid for the contract.