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Linux Foundation Expedites COVID-19 Battle With Notification Projects


Linux Foundation

Already contributing significantly to the battle against COVID-19, Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) has now decided to up the ante. LFPH is already working with many vendors including Cisco, IBM, and VMware. However, now the organization has decided to create a program on top of initial contact tracing done jointly by Google and Apple.

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What is LFPH Working On?

LEPH is partnering with seven premier members to bring out two hosted exposure notification projects — COVID Green and COVID Shield. The new program rolled out by the non-profit organization plans to harness the potential of open-source to provide innovative solutions to tackle COVID-19. Instead of going for first response or care providing, LFPH is focusing on the public health system via this exposure notification project for Public Health Authorities (PHAs). The rising threat of COVID-19 poses a greater risk to humanity and the common way of life as even the developed nations are struggling to tackle the pandemic.

Dan Kohn Linux

This project is being led by Dan Kohn, who moved away from the flourishing Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to head LFPH. The sheer importance of the project led to Kohn moving away from CNCF, which has been thriving with over 560 members. Placing public health at the top of priority list, Dan Kohn stated, “public health authorities have had radical level of underinvestment for the past couple of decades. We want to support anything that contributes to helping them do their jobs better.”

What are COVID Green and COVID Shield?

Talking about COVID Green, it was created by a team at NearForm as an extension of the Irish Government’s response to the global pandemic. Ever since its deployment, COVID Green has been adopted by over one-third of the adult Irish population. Fran Thompson, the CIO at Ireland’s Health Service Executive stated, “we are pleased to contribute COVID Green, the open source code behind Ireland’s COVID Tracker app, to LFPH. We are looking forward to collaborating with other public health authorities around the world via LF Public Health to assist them in quickly replicating our approach while learning from their experiences.”


COVID Shield was created by a team of over 40 volunteers at Shopify, and members of Ontario and Canada Digital Services. It is a privacy-focused app and is already being deployed in Canada. COVID Shield volunteer Aaron Olson said, “we’re very happy to host COVID Shield with LFPH and we welcome contributions from other developers to make it as easy as possible for PHAs to get started with exposure notifications.”

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What Does LFPH Aim To Achieve?

The target is to divert resources to a project that will be integrated with Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN). GAEN focuses on controlling COVID-19 transmission by isolating infected people as well as tracing possible contacts that the infected individual may have made with other people. It utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy to anonymously stay in contact with nearby devices and communicate possible cases of infection and contact.

Linux Foundation COVID-19

While GAEN is partially open-source, Kohn said that “no public health authority has the capability of taking the upstream open-source code and customizing it for their use. They need to partner with an IT vendor.” Further, LFPH also plans on starting a certification program for the project, something on the lines of the one made by CNCF for Kubernetes. Kohn added, “over time we want to have a stable of service providers who understand the code base and the priorities. If your vendor is looking for subcontractor, there will be groups we can recommend.”

Lastly, while LFPH’s project does not plan on hosting code, it will provide services such as funding, security audit, documentation assistance, and others to the programs adopted by it. One can head to the membership page on LFPH for detailed information on becoming a member of the project, costs involved, and the benefits on offer.


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