Interview with Dr. Holger Schlüter on the Digital Corona Health Certificate
More everyday life despite corona crisis

With a digital corona health certificate, an initiative involving the University Hospital of Cologne, Bundesdruckerei and the Blockchain experts from Ubirch aims to pave the way for an economic relaunch. A project in which Lufthansa Industry Solutions is also involved. We spoke to Dr. Holger Schlüter, Product Manager IoT Solutions at LHIND, about the idea behind the project, the role of LHIND and the biggest challenges so far.

Dr. Holger Schlüter, Product Manager IoT Solutions at LHIND

Norderstedt, April 28, 2020 – The idea of the Digital Corona Health Certificate has caused a sensation in the last few days. What is the project about?

We have been looking into the question of how the ongoing corona crisis can be combined with everyday life. What are the options for restarting the economy while keeping the risk of another wave of infection as low as possible? In order to achieve this goal, the interaction of various measures is of great importance. In the short term, these include distance regulations and the use of respiratory masks, and in the medium and long term, comprehensive testing and vaccinations. Knowledge of the health status of individual persons will also be an important element. Who is particularly at risk? Who has already had the disease? Who is healthy? This is the only way to restore a certain level of everyday life in leisure and work without jeopardizing the health of vulnerable groups.

The basis of the approach is the digital networking of different process steps. How did the project team proceed?

First of all, it was clear that a kind of health certificate was needed that would allow a reliable statement to be made as to whether the person in question was infectible or contagious. The dynamic spread of the coronavirus requires a new revision of the existing system. The problem is that even today important processes are often still paper-based, which reduces speed and leaves room for potential sources of error. The goal was therefore to digitize and network the entire process chain - from the collection of samples in the laboratories to the involvement of hospitals and health authorities, the notification of patients as well as the forgery-proof and anonymized storage of data in the block chain. 

What role does LHIND play in the digitalization of this process chain?

As a system integrator, we initially support the networking of the participants with each other. Our task is therefore to connect laboratories, clinics and health authorities with each other in such a way that a continuous reporting chain is created. Integration into the system should be as simple as possible. Only when a wide range of facilities can participate in the project comprehensively the solution will become more valuable.

In addition, there is also an approach of integrating the analysis devices directly into the system and automating the data transmission. The test results could then be sent to the appropriate facilities immediately after being analyzed. This speeds up the process drastically and saves important time. In order to contribute to a new start for the economy it is also possible to integrate other participants, such as companies or public institutions. Sensitive areas could be cleared for immunized or non-hazardous persons by integrating the solution into the existing access system. Together with other precautions, the risk of infection could be minimized when the economy is restarted.

What is special about this project? Were there any technological challenges that needed to be solved?

The challenges are less in the technological area. Rather, it is process-related issues that have challenged us. As I said, the entire chain from sampling to the delivery of the results and filing must be covered. This means that we have to integrate many different elements. This requires good coordination and organisation between the project partners. Especially when it comes to such an interdisciplinary project. In addition to the security experts from Ubirch and Bundesdruckerei, specialists from clinics, laboratories and health authorities are naturally also involved. And that is what makes such a project exciting and successful. As IT specialists, we can think up great ideas - but the medical experts have to judge what really makes sense. So far, this has worked out great and I am convinced that we will continue to work together successfully.

Thank you for the interview, Dr. Schlüter.

About Lufthansa Industry Solutions

Lufthansa Industry Solutions is a service provider for IT consulting and system integration. This Lufthansa subsidiary helps its clients with the digital transformation of their companies. Its customer base includes companies both within and outside the Lufthansa Group, as well as more than 200 companies in various lines of business. The company is based in Norderstedt and employs more than 2,100 members of staff at several branch offices in Germany, Albania, Switzerland and the USA.