This Cologne start-up is developing the digital vaccination certificate with IBM

Ubirch, a company specializing in blockchain applications, is to help develop the digital extension of the classic yellow ID card. In addition to public IT service providers, Bechtle is also involved.

One day it could look like this: The app for digital vaccination records is still being developed.

UA digital vaccination certificate is to be created in Germany under the management of the American technology group IBM. As can be seen from the online edition of the Official Journal of the European Union, this should be an additional option for the yellow vaccination card to document vaccinations. Part of this is then to be developed as a “vaccination verification app, a test app and a back-end system for integration in medical practices and vaccination centers”, according to the tender. The contract will only be concluded after a period of ten days and has a volume of 2.7 million euros. IBM has not yet commented on this, so Deutsche Telekom had also applied.

At the same time, German companies are also involved in the development. IBM holds 49 percent of the project, the rest is shared by the Cologne start-up Ubirch, the Swabian IT service provider Bechtle and Govdigital. Govidigtal is a cooperative association of ten IT service providers from the public sector, such as municipal data center operators. The corona cabinet decided on February 22 that there should be a digital vaccination certificate, and the European Council discussed the implementation of this certificate three days later. According to the official gazette, it should take around 12 weeks until a purely digital vaccination certificate is actually available. “The reasons for this are the complexity of the solution, the necessary data protection and security checks as well as the connection of around 55,000 practices and around 410 vaccination centers,” it says.

Travel industry is pushing for a solution

Because tourism and travel companies in particular have great hopes for vaccination certificates so that travel can pick up speed again, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wants to offer the digital vaccination certificate before the German summer holidays. How exactly the end product will look like, however, is still open. In Altötting in Upper Bavaria and in the Zollernalb district in Baden-Württemberg, Ubirch and Govdigital have already started pilot projects for such vaccination cards: For the second corona vaccination, there is a digital vaccination card that hides the status, with which the authorities or customs offices inquire about the vaccination status can. A plastic card with a QR code on which the data is stored is also issued there. This has no real purpose, except that it gives the vaccinated a good feeling that they have something to show, but in the future it should work on an app basis on smartphones.

The Cologne start-up Ubirch has specialized in blockchain applications and developed a type of signature so that results can be accessed from anywhere in a forgery-proof manner. This should work by means of blockchain technology, which is public and whose source code can therefore be checked. This means that it is not only assigned to one company, which should prevent unauthorized transfer. This infrastructure will then be built by Govdigital. Ubirch probably also got a chance because almost a year ago the company got together in a consortium of clinics, companies, corona test laboratories and public bodies to make corona test results digitally displayable. With the Rostock company Centogene, which develops corona tests and the test laboratory Dr. Wisplinghoff for example.

Lufthansa Industry Solutions, the IT consultancy of the largest German airline, joined this consortium in April last year because it expects the digital certificate to provide advantages for access controls when it comes to easing international travel. Bundesdruckerei, which, as a federal security company, manufactures ID cards and passports and therefore has some experience with secure identities and data, took care of identity management.

Network pays off for Ubirch

These cross-connections should have helped to get a chance in this tender for the digital vaccination certificate. “The fact that the large IBM corporation and the Cologne startup Ubirch have been awarded the contract by the Federal Ministry of Health is really exemplary and we are very pleased,” says Stephan Noller, CEO of Ubirch. “In this way we can actually scale our solution quickly and extremely professionally. We are very grateful that we can add real added value to the fight against the pandemic. “

Nevertheless, there are some voices from IT experts, for example from the Chaos Computer Club, who doubt that blockchain technology promises any added value in development. The main point of criticism is that it is generally difficult to digitally prove that a vaccination has taken place – and the alleged protection against forgery through a blockchain is not the main problem at all. Pavel Richter, the former managing director of Wikimedia Germany, which is now digitizing the Federal Association of German Foundations, became even clearer on Twitter: “Absolutely unbelievable – the digital vaccination certificate is actually made more expensive with blockchain nonsense,” wrote Richter. “I can’t believe that this digital equivalent of homeopathy is being revived again and again by politics.”

Ubirch, a company specializing in blockchain applications, is to help develop the digital extension of the classic yellow ID card. In addition to public IT service providers, Bechtle is also involved.

One day it could look like this: The app for digital vaccination records is still being developed.

UA digital vaccination certificate is to be created in Germany under the management of the American technology group IBM. As can be seen from the online edition of the Official Journal of the European Union, this should be an additional option for the yellow vaccination card to document vaccinations. Part of this is then to be developed as a “vaccination verification app, a test app and a back-end system for integration in medical practices and vaccination centers”, according to the tender. The contract will only be concluded after a period of ten days and has a volume of 2.7 million euros. IBM has not yet commented on this, so Deutsche Telekom had also applied.

At the same time, German companies are also involved in the development. IBM holds 49 percent of the project, the rest is shared by the Cologne start-up Ubirch, the Swabian IT service provider Bechtle and Govdigital. Govidigtal is a cooperative association of ten IT service providers from the public sector, such as municipal data center operators. The Corona cabinet decided on February 22 that there should be a digital vaccination certificate, and the European Council discussed the implementation of this certificate three days later. According to the official gazette, it should take around 12 weeks until a purely digital vaccination certificate is actually available. “The reasons for this are the complexity of the solution, the necessary data protection and security checks as well as the connection of around 55,000 practices and around 410 vaccination centers,” it says.

Travel industry is pushing for a solution

Because tourism and travel companies in particular are placing great hopes in vaccination certificates so that travel can pick up speed again, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wants to offer the digital vaccination certificate before the German summer holidays. How exactly the end product will look like, however, is still open. In Altötting in Upper Bavaria and in the Zollernalb district in Baden-Württemberg, Ubirch and Govdigital have already started pilot projects for such vaccination cards: For the second corona vaccination, there is a digital vaccination card, behind which the status is hidden, with which authorities or customs offices inquire about the vaccination status can. A plastic card with a QR code on which the data is stored is also issued there. This has no real purpose, except that it gives the vaccinated a good feeling that they have something to show, but in the future it should work on an app basis on smartphones.

The Cologne start-up Ubirch has specialized in blockchain applications and developed a type of signature so that results can be accessed from anywhere in a forgery-proof manner. This should work by means of blockchain technology, which is public and whose source code can therefore be checked. This means that it is not only assigned to one company, which should prevent unauthorized transfer. This infrastructure will then be built by Govdigital. Ubirch probably also got a chance because almost a year ago the company got together in a consortium of clinics, companies, corona test laboratories and public bodies to make corona test results digitally displayable. With the Rostock company Centogene, which develops corona tests and the test laboratory Dr. Wisplinghoff for example.

Lufthansa Industry Solutions, the IT consultancy of the largest German airline, joined this consortium in April of last year because it expects the digital certificate to provide advantages for access controls when it comes to easing international travel. Bundesdruckerei, which, as a federal security company, produces ID cards and passports, and therefore has some experience with secure identities and data, took care of identity management.

Network pays off for Ubirch

These cross-connections should have helped to get a chance in this tender for the digital vaccination certificate. “The fact that the large IBM corporation and the Cologne startup Ubirch have been awarded the contract by the Federal Ministry of Health is really exemplary and we are very pleased,” says Stephan Noller, CEO of Ubirch. “In this way we can actually scale our solution quickly and extremely professionally. We are very grateful that we can add real added value to the fight against the pandemic. “

Nevertheless, there are some voices from IT experts, for example from the Chaos Computer Club, who doubt that blockchain technology promises any added value in development. The main point of criticism is that it is generally difficult to digitally prove that a vaccination has taken place – and the alleged protection against forgery through a blockchain is not the main problem at all. Pavel Richter, the former managing director of Wikimedia Germany, which is now digitizing the Federal Association of German Foundations, became even clearer on Twitter: “Absolutely unbelievable – the digital vaccination certificate is actually made more expensive with blockchain nonsense,” wrote Richter. “I can’t believe that this digital equivalent of homeopathy is being revived again and again by politics.”