COVID-19 tests: Unikname C.A.R.E™ for travel consortium proposes a solution for the air sector

30 August 2020 | App, Coronavirus, Cybersecurity, News

Charlène Demaret

Currently, many countries require travelers to hold a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of arrival. A simple visit to France Diplomatie, a website with travel advice from the french government to its citizens is enough to observe (witness/see) that the list keeps expanding as a second wave of the pandemic is striking numerous countries.

This warranted (justifiable) precautionary measure causes long lines in front of testing centers as well as serious issues and additional costs for the receiving airport authorities.

The test results presented by produce paper results or a PDF file on their smartphone in their own language. These documents need to be checked manually, which ends up creating delays. Challenged with a longer processing of their passengers, airports will inevitably have to hire more controllers to decipher these documents. On top of this additional cost comes that of the quarantine procedure for passengers with suspicious health conditions. Indeed, these lab-issued documents can easily be forged. They are already subject to fraud by passengers who either failed to procure a test in due time or simply wished to conceal their condition. Finally, collecting the test results of thousands of travelers raises privacy concerns. These personal, and sometimes specific, health data that are stored and potentially shared without the owner’s consent.

Currently, many countries require travelers to hold a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of arrival. A simple visit to France Diplomatie, a website with travel advice from the french government to its citizens, is enough to observe that the list keeps expanding as a second wave of the pandemic is striking numerous countries. This warranted precautionary measure causes long lines in front of testing centers as well as serious issues and additional costs for the receiving airport authorities.

The test results presented by travelers are not standardized. People produce paper results or a PDF file on their smartphone and in their own language. These documents need to be checked manually, which ends up creating delays. Challenged with a longer processing of their passengers, airports will inevitably have to hire more controllers to decipher these documents. On top of this additional cost comes that of the quarantine procedure for passengers with suspicious health conditions. Indeed, the lab-issued documents can easily be forged. They are already subject to fraud by passengers who either failed to procure a test in due time or simply wish to conceal their condition.

Finally, collecting the test results of thousands of travelers raises privacy concerns. This is personal, and sometimes specific, health data that is stored and potentially shared without the owner’s consent.

The air industry must brace for a crisis which will last

Undoubtedly, these new obligations are necessary to protect populations and even though they heavily affect all players of the travel industry, they are now needed to help the market rise again from its ashes.

The latest numbers of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) report a loss of $419 billions for the industry in 2020. A recovery is then absolutely essential for the travel industry, even if resuming air traffic will prove to be on the slow and long run as recently predicted by Augustin de Romanet, ADP’s (Paris Airports) CEO in an official announcement: “For the first time in 50 years, air traffic is shaken by such a hard jolt, the recovery can only be done on the long run”. IATA estimates the sector’s recovery to a state close to pre-crisis will be manageable only beginning 2023.

Without a vaccine on the short term and challenged with a dramatic loss of income, the sector must adapt itself to a situation that will last, meaning it must equip itself with automated sustainable solutions to secure and simplify the processing and verification of PCR tests (among others) in airports.

Automating the checks will not only facilitate the reception of passengersbut also participate in the necessary recovery of the industry, while respecting the mandatory health measures for each country. It will also speed controls of passengers up and lower the costs for operators.

For the States, improving the reliability of the controls will guarantee the truthfulness of the data generated by travelers and the absence of fraud, thus preventing the threat of a health hazard for the population. Finally, travelers will be assured that their health data remain confidential in whatever country they visit. Bringing a solution regarding all these constraints is the reason why the consortium Unikname C.A.R.E™ for travel (acronym for Citizen Anonymous Reporting Epidemic) was created.

An app already operational on the blockchain

For 24 months, Unikname C.A.R.E ™ platform has been using a technology developed by Space Elephant. The project is handled by a 8-person team and the solution it brings is based on a computer protocol focused on protecting privacy, that has been running for several months now. It is supported by a blockchain which provides a completely secured solution allowing each passenger to produce a PCR test all while enjoying strict guarantees that their data remain confidential. Absolutely zero data outside of the result are available to the controller.

For airport safety, it contains a proof of absolute authentication of the result provided by the passenger on their smartphone, printed on their ticket or by accessing it through an API with the ID number of the traveler.

Information is dematerialized, which enables automation of the controls and speeds the process of welcoming passengers up, all while lowering the costs for the operator. On top of that, the proof provided by the passenger is technically authentic, forgery-proof and therefore potentially exploitable in other cases of sanitary crisis. It can be presented by the user of the Unikname C.A.R.E ™ solution to travel, but also to enter public places where access may be limited to individuals exempt from the virus, such as nursing homes, cruise ships, or even stadiums.

Unikname C.A.R.E ™ for travel enables each traveler to produce their own PCR test result while having rigorous guarantees as for the protection of their privacy.

Technically speaking, Unikname C.A.R.E ™ uses self-sovereign usernames, meaning one individual controls their own username. Documents are linked to one individual in an unforgeable way, while making it technically impossible to establish a connection between the documents and an individual without their explicit consent. The PCR test result becomes visible only when the user of the Unikname C.A.R.E ™ app provides proof of their identity on their smartphone screen. This exclusive protocol developed by Unikname enables the digitalization of the PCR test results, while certifying their authenticity and assuring a total anonymization, as well as generating an anonymous proof of the result. (ongoing patents)

Unikname C.A.R.E ™ for travel aspires to be an open platform, reachable through APIs and a license system. APIs will allow airports, agents of the travel industry but also laboratories to interact with C.A.R.E ™ platform. In the model sketched by its designers, licenses might be granted to laboratories so that they can save directly on the Unikname C.A.R.E ™ blockchain, through APIs, the anonymized proofs of the digitalized tests. Likewise, airports might obtain an access license to automatically refer to the proofs via passport numbers. They will have at their disposal an app and particular APIs dedicated to control tasks. In any case, the traveler is the only one to decide when and to whom they give access to their test result.

An open consortium to support the project

In terms of economic model, the first consortium members pictured a model based on the Pay-per-user system, a slim extra charge that will be financed either by airport tax, or included in the ticket price, or in laboratories service. The platform’s funding methods are still to be defined by the Unikname C.A.R.E ™ for travel consortium.

Initially created by Space Elephant company, designer of Unikname technology and Unikname C.A.R.E ™ protocol, this consortium has already rallied Visamundi, French leader of the electronic visa business and Digital Service Company Cyllene, that brings its expertise and ressources for a fast implementation and scalability of the solution.

Discussions are still underway with two laboratories and a first French International Airport.

This consortium is completely ready to welcome new members. The project has obtained an exceptional funding from the BPI (French Public Investment Bank), in order to quickly submit a prototype and to offer a working platform to travel industry players and airports. Besides, the project is now supported by the competitive cluster ATLANPOLE and benefits from NOVAPULS boosting program (Sodero Gestion).

The consortium’s official launch is planned for September in Paris. Airports operators, laboratories and travel industry players are welcomed to join it and actively take part in the birth of a platform that will revitalize the field.

For further information or to join the consortium and take part in the pilot project: contact@unikname.com

  • Unikname → secures and protects Internet users privacy.
  • Visamundi: French leader of the electronic visa business.
  • Cyllene: Digital transformation operator.
  • ATLANPOLE: competitive cluster.
  • NOVAPULS: startups booster.
  • U.A.F: French Airports Association.

What we talked about Unikname Care For Travel?