Singapore's GovTech donates OpenTrace to Linux Foundation Public Health's Herald Project

adamfowleruk
adamfowleruk
August 24, 2021

Singapore’s GovTech donates OpenTrace to Linux Foundation Public Health’s Herald Project

GovTech Singapore (https://tech.gov.sg) has signed an agreement to donate the OpenTrace code and name to Linux Foundation Public Health (https://lfph.io/) (LFPH)’s Herald Project (https://heraldprox.io/). Open sourced in April 2020, OpenTrace was one of the first Digital Contact Tracing (DCT) systems published for use around the world. It received strong interest from many nations in early 2020 seeking to adopt similar solutions.

Adam Fowler, The Herald Project’s TSC Chair, had this to say:

“The Singapore Government’s GovTech team were the true trailblazers of practical Digital Contact Tracing. Their efforts spurred on other teams throughout the world to pursue this life saving risk screening technology. Their success in proving the viability of Digital Contact Tracing in Singapore inspired me to continue to pursue research creating a reliable Bluetooth communication system to further improve this technology, and resulted in the creation of The Herald Project. I’m very proud to work with the GovTech team and carry on the baton of open source Digital Contact Tracing as part of Project Herald.”

The Herald Project was formed in the summer of 2020 to investigate and create a method for reliable, privacy-preserving Bluetooth communication and range finding across multiple devices, including phones, wearables and beacons. Created as a VMware originated open source project, Herald was donated to LFPH in February 2021. The Herald Protocol is the most reliable protocol with the widest device support in the world, supporting phones back to 2010 and a wide range of inexpensive wearables. The Herald project even has its own open source wearable design which should eventually be manufactured at USD 15 per wearable and is currently undergoing testing.

Since its launch, Herald has been adopted by those looking to improve their DCT systems including the COVID-19 apps of Australia and Alberta, Canada, and is deployed on over 7.5 million devices worldwide. The Herald Project has developed a vibrant community since joining Linux Foundation Public Health.

Jenny Wanger from LFPH had this to say:

“GovTech’s donation of OpenTrace demonstrates exactly the kind of global collaboration between technologists and public health authorities that open source software enables and leads to better products overall. Because LFPH is dedicated to making sure everything we do happens in the open, public health authorities around the world trust us and the software we host, like Herald, to help them in the fight against COVID-19.”

The Singapore Government’s own TraceTogether system was built on OpenTrace and is tightly linked to the national healthcare and disease outbreak response systems in Singapore. By donating OpenTrace to Herald and assisting the team on the future direction of Herald, the hope is to create a white-labeled software suite for Digital Contact Tracing incorporating mobile apps, wearable devices, DCT backend services, and epidemiological outbreak analytics that any government can use to help protect their residents.

Jason Bay from GovTech Singapore had this to say about their hopes for the OpenTrace code and name joining Herald:

“My team and I built TraceTogether and OpenTrace because we believed in the potential for a novel application of consumer technology to support public health responses to COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks – not only in Singapore but globally too. In our March 2020 manifesto, we wrote that ‘viruses do not respect national boundaries, (and) neither should humanity’s response.’ Herald’s vision of an end-to-end white-label system that public health authorities can adopt is ambitious, but worthy of our support. We hope that by aligning our efforts around an open, interoperable framework like Herald, humanity will collectively be better able to respond to this and future pandemics.”

In the coming weeks The Herald Project will release a new version of OpenTrace to provide an end-to-end DCT system that leverages both the OpenTrace and Herald innovations. The OpenTrace name and brand will be used for all DCT tools within the project; the Herald name will be applied to the broader protocol technology which has potential future health use cases such as:

  • Replacing hospital pagers with a system that provides more context about a required consultation
  • Locating urgently required hospital equipment such as syringe drivers
  • Securely tracking important samples in hospitals
  • Ultra Wide Band (UWB) enabled devices for very accurate distance estimation in worker safety
  • Wayfinding inside complex buildings using a series of Herald-enabled beacons

Find out more about OpenTrace

You can visit our OpenTrace section on this website for further details.

Get Involved

The Herald Project thrives on community participation. If you want to get involved, or have a great idea for improving healthcare, please get in touch. Visit the Herald Community Page.

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