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Ministry of Health releases COVID-19 app standards for third-party developers

Ministry of Health releases COVID-19 app standards for third-party developers

The initial focus was on supporting consumer registration and recording consistent information about customers and visitors to businesses

Credit: Supplied

The Ministry of Health has released draft integration and data specifications to help developers of third-party contact tracing apps to interoperate and integrate with government systems.

Three releases cover the data standard for contract tracing, the QR code specification for premises and the contact tracing integration platform specification.

Yesterday the government released its contact tracing app, developed by Rush Digital using AWS, into the Google Play and Apple App Store. However, many other developers have also pivoted to develop contact tracing apps.

Use of the government app is not compulsory, though the government is urging people to install it on their mobile devices.

The integration specification said the ministry recognised that a number of third-party solutions will be developed to support contact tracing, and the benefit that an ecosystem of solutions can bring to improving the contact tracing process.

This benefit needed to be carefully balanced with privacy and consent requirements, data security and integrity of any integrations, and overall clinical utility in collecting the information.

"While the ministry is developing first-party consumer digital solutions to support contact tracing, these are not intended to be the only solutions, nor does the ministry expect the first-party solutions will meet the needs of everyone in New Zealand," the specification said.

"As such, the Ministry is open to exploring ways for developers of third-party solutions to securely contribute the data they have collected."

The document warned that any proposed application programming interfaces (APIs) are conceptual only, and are subject to a detailed design, architectural, and security review in line with standard ministry technology governance.

The approaches in the document have also not been subjected to formal clinical review.

The data standard was intended to assist technology vendors in interpreting the data requirements for contact tracing. It was consistent with Ministry of Health COVID-19 case definitions and contact tracing process description, and formed part of the pandemic minimum data set for COVID-19 in New Zealand.

"The general purpose of the standard is to ensure that all data collected and used in the contact tracing process is well-defined, properly structured and coded, and supports interoperability," the document explained. 

The initial focus was about supporting the consumer registration process and recording consistent information about customers and visitors to business locations.

"Whilst we will endeavour to maintain consistency with the current government requirements, technology vendors should also ensure that any solutions developed conform to these, regardless of what is captured in this standard," the document advised.


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