BizSecure is Using Verifiable Credentials to Revolutionize Medical Test Results During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In March of 2020, the whole world witnessed the power of the pandemic to bring everyday life to a grinding halt. Employees were tasked with working from home. School children somehow had to engage with their teachers through a laptop screen and everyone was left questioning, how long this would last? How dangerous this pandemic really was? And of course, when they would be able to buy toilet paper again. It was amidst the chaos of early spring that a small technology company in San Diego, California decided that they could help.
The BizSecure team has developed a platform powered by blockchain technology that enables medical records, transcripts, college degrees, and other credentials to be shared and verified cryptographically on a decentralized ledger. This technology ensures both the integrity of the data itself as well as the authenticity. Recognizing a need for verifiable test results for COVID-19 testing, the company partnered with medical professionals and high-capacity laboratories in the United States who were already conducting COVID-19 testing.
“Our technology allows these test results to be issued as verifiable credentials in our Digital Wallet,” explains BizSecure Board Chairman Alfonso Arana, “This tech is being used to help reopen schools and universities, and can even be used by the travel and tourism industries as well.”
COVID-19 Testing & Verifiable Credentials
“As we navigate this crisis,” BizSecure President Haydar Majeed explains, “we will need to find a way to effectively trust that the people around us are not a risk to our personal health. Trust issues will become critical to containment as government lockdowns start to be lifted, and life begins to return to normal. People will need assurances and will have reason to expect that people around them are taking the necessary precautions for public health.”
In order to help businesses and government officials combat the effect of the virus on society and our economy, BizSecure mobilized their verifiable credential platform to be used for issuing verifiable medical health credentials. The BizSecure Digital Wallet, and app for smartphones, provides users with the ability to protect and share their digital health credentials with trusted entities. The privacy-preserving technology allows users to secure their private medical information and share only what is needed with those they trust. With a quick touchless scan of a QR code, that individual can prove that he or she was recently tested and confirmed to be virus-free or has been vaccinated (once a vaccine is available to the public). True to the spirit of verifiable credentials, this digital certificate contains no personally identifiable information about the patient—meaning privacy and confidentiality can be preserved at all times—while still providing strong cryptographic proof that the credential belongs to that person and is authentic and untampered with. This type of digital credential is massively harder to fake or spoof than any paper or plastic credential. And it can be issued in seconds—and revoked in seconds if that individual’s COVID-19 status changes.
Providing Testing and Peace of Mind for University Students in Hawaii
In April, the Bizsecure team began discussing a partnership with Hawaii Pacific who was looking for a solution that would enable them to bring back their students to campus on the islands of Hawaii while ensuring they adhered to all of the guidelines set forth by the State.
Hawaii enforced some of the strictest lockdown and quarantine regulations in the United states despite having some of the lowest infection rates from COVID-19 compared with other states. All Hawaii residents were ordered to stay at home starting March 25th and those who violated the order could have been found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 and face a year in prison. Hawaii also stood out because of its strict travel restrictions, including the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for visitors.
During an August 13 press conference to address Hawaii’s recent surge, Gov. David Ige said Oahu may need to lock down again. “If things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions,” Ige said. “This could include going back to the stay-at-home orders or other restrictive measures that we need to implement in order to stem the increase in the number of COVID cases.”
BizSecure was able to implement a pilot-program with Hawaii Pacific University in order to help them reopen and bring their students back to campus.
How Our Technology is Being Used
The first challenge that needed to be addressed was allowing students to come back to the island from the mainland.
The BizSecure team worked closely with the university and Hawaiian State Officials to ensure a smooth return for students to the island. The technology and platform for verifiable credentials that BizSecure developed became an essential deciding factor in whether the state would allow students to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival to the island. University students for Hawaii Pacific University are able to download our Digital Wallet application for free (available on the Apple Store and Google Play), and use the ‘telehealth’ tab to quickly order a COVID-19 Saliva PCR NAAT Test from BizSecure’s approved CLIA Lab partner Clinical Reference Laboratories. Once a student orders a test, the BizSecure medical team is able to prescribe a test for the student and send out a test kit to the student by mail. The student then receives the test and follows the simple sample-collection instructions. The COVID-19 test is saliva based and requires no licensed physician to administer or any personal protective equipment (PPE). Once the specimen has been provided, the student re-packages the test, and mails it back to the lab overnight (FedEx) for analysis.
Most test results are returned to the patient within 24-48 hours, and the student then receives what’s called a Digital Credential in their app with all the information of the test results, along with a QR Code for privacy-preserving verification. The student is then able to board a flight to Hawaii, and upon arrival, they will be able to show the state health official their unique QR code, to prove they have been tested properly and can then bypass the mandated state quarantine.
The health official can either validate the result by the timestamp and color code of the credential itself or they can scan the encrypted QR Code with the same app on their own device and validate the authenticity of the student’s COVID-19 test. The mobile verification process takes place in real-time in just a matter of seconds, the state health-official receives the verification and the student is cleared to go to campus and bypass the quarantine.
Once the student arrives on campus, they will be required to take a daily health assessment to monitor any potential symptoms of COVID-19, and they will continue to get tested regularly.
The pilot-program with Hawaii Pacific University is being used to document the procedures and hopefully will allow State Officials in Hawaii to open up tourism again and get the state’s economy back up and running.
Opening up Tourism for Countries Around the World Who Rely on the Tourism Industry for Survival
The tourism economy has been heavily hit by the coronavirus pandemic itself as well as the measures introduced to contain its spread. The OECD estimates a 60% decline in international tourism in 2020, due to COVID-19, which could rise to 80% if recovery is delayed until December. Tourism is one of the most directly affected sectors in this current crisis and this calls for an immediate and long-term response. With international aviation at a virtual standstill since March, the closure of tourism sites and attractions, the cancellation or postponement of major festivals and events, as well as restrictions on public gatherings (indoor and outdoor) in many countries, the impact of COVID-19 on global tourism has been overwhelming and immediate.
Some countries are attempting to reopen their borders by implementing a color-coded system to determine which travelers can enter, based on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in their home countries. Tourists from “green” countries with a low coronavirus prevalence, such as Italy and France, will be able to travel freely, while travelers from “orange” countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, will be subject to special measures, including a requirement to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test. Nationals from countries not listed, including the US, will not be allowed to enter the country for tourism.
BizSecure is helping solve the problem of tourism by providing a way for would-be travelers to access reliable COVID-19 testing and verifiable proof of their negative test results before they even board the plane to their destination. Not only does this enable tourist locations to welcome back their patrons, but allows airlines to provide some peace-of-mind to their passengers by authenticating the test results of every passenger prior to boarding.
Enabling Business to get Back to Work While Keeping Employees Healthy and Safe
The BizSecure Pandemic Response Toolkit utilizes state of the art technology to provide a safe and convenient method of verifying individual test results without compromising HIPAA regulations or an individual’s right to privacy. Our customizable solution enables anyone to provide health screenings, telehealth services, and COVID-19 testing to their organization.
The BizSecure Digital Wallet can be used to verify any user’s COVID-19 test results as authentic and valid. BizSecure’s Facial Detection Smart Terminal, similar to those you may have started to see placed at entrances of buildings and restaurants, provides access control by ensuring face masks are being utilized and body temperature readings remain under the recommended threshold.
“We hope that everyone is able to get the tools they need to keep their students, employees and customers healthy and safe,” Madison Majeed of BizSecure stated, “Our goal is help bring customers and staff safely back to the workplace, students and teachers back in the classroom, and help our community return to a sense of normalcy. The toolkit that we’ve built helps do that.”
Helping Approve Laws and Regulations for Government Bodies
In August 2020, California legislators passed a bill to authorize the issuers of COVID-19 test results to do so with digital verifiable credentials powered by blockchain-technology. COVID-19 test results or other medical test results may use verifiable credentials, as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), for the purpose of providing test results to individuals. BizSecure worked with California Senate Majority Leader Ian Calderon, to help pass Bill AB-2004 authorizing the use of Verifiable Credentials in a pilot program with the state of California
While many have questions about the implementation of new, untested technology, experts testifying during the State Assembly regarding authorizing the use of Verifiable Credentials as proposed by Bill AB 2004 argued, “As far as any questions in regards to these underlying technologies themselves for the use by the State of California I do not have reservations — these new technologies offer a number of privacy by design features and address security issues that legacy credential and identity technologies do not. Organizations around the world including the US Department of Homeland Security, the Canadian government, Taiwan, New Zealand, and a number of EU nations are committed to moving toward solutions using these new architectures.”
The confirmation of this bill and others, by the California Legislature opens the door for other states, and government agencies to implement blockchain technology and verifiable credential projects that benefit the public. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) is keeping pace with the innovation community to tackle the hardest problems faced by DHS and the Homeland Security Enterprise. Some DHS operations are using blockchain and distributed technologies to issue and verify credentials using open standards. These systems use credentials that may be issued by DHS and held in a digital wallet like the BizSecure Digital Wallet.
BizSecure was founded on the belief that everyone deserves to have complete autonomy over their own identity; that they should be able seamlessly to use that ID in both the physical and digital world. We believe that user privacy and security are yours by right. We believe that individuals should be in complete control of their own data, instead of it being owned or mined by mega-corporations and data-farms. We believe that government services should be accessible to everyone with the click of a button. We believe in building trust and operability between users, organizations, and governments both online and in traditional spaces. We believe in a better tomorrow and we’re working hard to get us there.