In a recent post on its website, French multinational Thales lays out the benefits and challenges posed by digital health credentials — and in particular its Digital Identity Wallet solution — and the role they will play as the world continues reopening a wide variety of businesses, venues and events while trying to avoid putting public health through an undue risk.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as vaccination programmes around the world gather momentum, there is growing attention toward the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ (otherwise referred to as digital health passes or credentials) and how they can be used by governments to not only enable safe international travel, but also their utility when deployed domestically to help provide a means to reopen or keep open various businesses.
Though Thales admits that there are a number of challenges governments may face when attempting to introduce credentialing programs such as security, ease of use, and a swift and comprehensive rollout, the company points to its Digital Identity Wallet solution as a ready-made option that can help facilitate these processes.
Specifically, Thales points to the importance of ensuring that any digital health credential can be trusted to have been issued by a legitimate authority as well as presented by a genuine holder.
“Health passes will be checked by a wide array of stakeholders,” the Thales post states. “A fast, accessible and intuitive verification process is therefore crucial to maximising adoption and compliance.”
Thales notes that its Digital Identity Wallet is built on a number of standards that are defined by international standardisation bodies such as ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). The post also outlines how the process of sharing one’s information works, and how it is secured using the above listed standards.
“Whenever proof of this information is needed, users simply authenticate to open their mobile wallet, select the information they want to share, and generate a QR code to invite third party verifiers to engage with the wallet using ISO 18013-5 compliant mechanisms.”
Though specially designed apps are another potential avenue for digital health credentialing, Thales points out that such solutions are reliant on everyone having a smartphone, and while smartphone adoption is growing around the globe, there are still segments of populations that do not have access to one.
In the case that an individual is unable or unwilling to use a smartphone (due to security concerns), Thales notes that a QR code can be issued via a PDF as an ICAO Visible Digital Seal with ID document information embedded within the code. To authenticate their identity, the holders would present a physical document — a passport or ID card, for example — in order to prove they are the genuine holder of the printed code in the PDF.