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ToIP Ecosystems in Action: The Good Health Pass Working Group

The Trust Over IP (ToIP) Foundation is an international consortium focused on creating an architectural “stack”  for interoperable solutions for trusted interactions over the Internet. The ToIP Ecosystem Foundry Work Group was created specifically for such collaborative efforts. 

To date, one of our most significant achievements in building an interoperable ecosystem was the rapid creation of the Interoperability Working Group for the Good Health Pass, created in the summer of 2021 as a part of the Good Health Pass Collaborative (GHPC), an industry coalition working together to reopen global travel by solving the problem of interoperable credentials for health status information. At the height of the project there were over 150 people representing over 50 organizations working at lightning speed to produce the necessary recommendations. ToIP hosted and provided the collaborative tools for 10 separate drafting groups. 

A Rapid Industry Response to COVID-19

By 2021, the world of travel was just beginning to reconsider how to reopen. Of paramount importance was finding a way to ensure that health and safety protocols were being met. This was not easy—many different solutions were flooding onto the market, and different health authorities were issuing different—and in some cases conflicting—requirements for how to verify the health status of travelers.

The GHPC idea was initially conceived by Charlie Walton, a business leader in digital identity at  MasterCard at the time, who is now SVP and General Manager of Identity at Avast. Charlie brought the idea to ID2020, a non-profit digital identity alliance MasterCard had been supporting, and initiated GHPC with the support of the ID2020 team. 

The GHPC started with creating a core set of principles to guide the interoperability effort. These principles attracted the attention of a broad group of people and organizations from technical communities as well as the travel industry. They joined the effort to articulate key issue areas and questions that needed to be answered to solve for global interoperability of health passes. 

It became clear that the GHPC needed a place where a large community of stakeholders could work very quickly together on a set of industry standards for health passes without engendering intellectual property rights issues. ToIP provided the necessary legal structure, community resources and technical expertise to accomplish that goal.

Delivering Results at Speed: The GHP Blueprint

The GHPC and the Interoperability Working Group at ToIP received strong support from other health credential initiatives, especially the COVID Credentials Initiative (CCI), then hosted at ToIP’s sister organization Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH). As one of the earliest COVID credential efforts, CCI and its community members brought their passion and expertise to the development of the Blueprint. Kaliya Young, Ecosystems Director at CCI, was selected to co-chair the Interoperability Working Group for Good Health Pass with Rebecca Distler from ID2020. Thanks to this facilitation, the Working Group was able to quickly complete the Blueprint in just 10 weeks. This is an excellent example of how a diverse group of stakeholders from cross-sector organizations can be brought together at ToIP to design an effective digital trust ecosystem.

The Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint proposed a set of interoperability specifications which enable industries and governments to verify travelers’ COVID-19 status (proof of vaccination, testing, and recovery), while ensuring that core principles – such as privacy, security, user-control, and equity – are protected. It addressed nine technical and interoperability challenges around which global consensus must be reached:

  • Design principles
  • Consistent user experience
  • Standard data models and elements
  • Credential formats, signatures, and exchange protocols
  • Security, privacy, and data protection
  • Trust registries
  • Rules engines
  • Identity binding (ensuring the authenticity of the holder)
  • Governance

The Interoperability Blueprint was officially published on August 1, 2021. Shortly after the publication of the Blueprint, a Guardianship Addendum was published (to accommodate guardians, caregivers and authorized representatives) and a Paper Credentials Cookbook to provide guidance on paper-based credentials to ameliorate digital inequity in travel credentials. 

As a further development of the Blueprint, Kaliya, together with her CCI colleagues Lucy Yang and John Walker, helped initiate the Global COVID Certificate Network (GCCN) at LFPH to architecturally implement the recommendations—in particular demonstrating the technical viability of  a global trust network. Today, GCCN has attracted the attention of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who are evaluating GCCN for a G20 pilot as well as a wide variety of use cases for health and beyond.

The Blueprint and follow-on publications represent valuable sources of information which can be referenced by other projects who wish to build upon the expert community knowledge that went into their development.