certSIGN’s homomorphic encryption, used in the development of the “Coronavirus COVID-19 Romania” app

certSIGN’s homomorphic encryption solution for the protection of sensitive data was used in the development of the “Coronavirus COVID-19 Romania” app which monitors and centralizes the data on the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, at national level.

The app – the result of a collaboration between the Central Military Emergency University Hospital “Dr. Carol Davila” and certSIGN within the TAMEC project (Advanced Epidemic Management Techniques in the Community) – makes a map of the spatial distribution of all officially confirmed cases and a statistic showing the evolution by days. It also includes information on hospital infrastructure, population density but also the relevant details of each case.

How does it work?

The solution contains a system for detecting contacts of patients confirmed with SARS-CoV-2 using mobile devices, a system for managing and mapping the distribution of confirmed cases, as well as a system for collecting, monitoring in real time and managing hospital resources.

Why certSIGN’s homomorphic encryption?

The homomorphic encryption solution, developed and patented by certSIGN in the USA, is an innovation which ensures the protection of personal data. Specifically, it allows the processing of information directly in encrypted form, without being accessed by the entity that processes it. If in the case of classical encryption solutions, the data to be processed are first decrypted, then analyzed and processed and finally re-encrypted – a process that can give rise to security breaches, in the case of homomorphic encryption the data remain encrypted throughout processing.

Beneficiaries and advantages

Citizens: by warning them, in real time, of the possibility of contamination in a certain area. Because the infection is not instantaneous (requiring a few minutes for transmission) at the time of notification the user of the mobile application can leave the area to avoid contamination. Thus, the proposed solution can effectively contribute to limiting contamination and the number of cases occurring in the community;

Members of the epidemiological community from the Public Health Directorates and from hospitals: by quickly identifying the contacts of those infected with COVID-19 and making epidemiological investigations much easier;

Ambulance and SMURD Services, the General Inspectorate of Emergency Situations and the County Councils: through a better management of both hospital beds and the resources allocated to them, thus favoring management decisions adapted to the reality of local, regional and national epidemics;

Hospital managers: in the decisional management of human resources, of the endowment with protection equipment and, implicitly, in the budgeting of activities specific to the pandemic context.

The two partners won, with the "Coronavirus COVID-19 Romania" app, the project competition recently initiated by the Ministry of Education and Research, through the Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education of Research, Development and Innovation, in which 33 projects were entered, developed and supported by reference institutions in the academic and university field, medical or technical.

The financing and budget of the project in the amount of 500,000 lei is provided by the Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education of Research, Development and Innovation, and the duration of the Project "Advanced techniques for epidemic management in the community" (TAMEC) is 12 months.

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