Covid Green and the Linux Foundation

Covid Green is the open source code behind the highly successful COVID Tracker Ireland app, donated in July by the Irish government to Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH).

Initially designed and developed to meet the need for a contact tracing app in Ireland, the code that makes up Covid Green is now available on GitHub as part of LFPH. COVID Green goes beyond the basic exposure notification capability to include symptom checking, statistical updates, public health information and more — all while ensuring user privacy is protected.

The COVID Green app provides governments around the world with a tested, trusted and effective total solution for digital contact tracing and exposure notification. In Ireland alone, use of the app resulted in more than 800 exposure notifications within two months of launch, demonstrating how important the use of such apps can be in managing the spread of COVID-19.

More than contact tracing

In addition to contact tracing, COVID Green interfaces with public health authorities (PHAs) to provide users with real-time Covid-19 information updates. These updates include the daily number of confirmed cases (both national and local), hospital admissions, intensive care admissions and more. The app also displays the trend of daily confirmed cases, helping make the app a go-to source for Covid-19 statistics.
The optional symptom check-in feature allows users to track their symptoms anonymously in the app. These check-ins also give PHAs a daily snapshot of users’ health, the disease impact and early indications of localised clusters. By collating the daily snapshots, PHAs can review disease progression and apply the information to their efforts to combat the disease.

Key to the daily functionality and ongoing success of the COVID Green apps is the interoperability built into the code. As restrictions on movement and travel continue to ease and people get back to their usual routines, the ability to ensure contact tracing across borders and through multiple jurisdictions will be paramount. This ability is part of COVID Green and currently working along the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Going open source

As members of the global open source community, NearForm are committed to maintaining and enhancing contact tracing app code in an ongoing effort to support PHAs as they customise the app to their specific needs.

By donating to LFPH, we learnt that PHAs are willing to embrace tried and tested digital solutions to augment manual contract tracing used to control the spread of Covid-19. The transparency of COVID Green increases the trust PHAs have in the app — which is vital to a successful app launch and to maximising adoption by assuring the public that their phone data and location information remains private and secure.

As part of the Linux Foundation, we are part of a wide network of more than 2,000 members in 40 countries. With this global community, we continue to collaborate with PHAs, health experts and technologists on Covid app localisation, privacy and security.

  • We are keen to share our technical expertise and enable PHAs to:
  • Roll out contact tracing apps quickly and with ease.
  • Ensure app privacy and security remains paramount.
  • Ensure best practices.
  • Increase collaboration in the digital development and health community.
  • Extend localisation and multilingual support.

“Being open source, the solution intentionally does not aim to lock governments into something closed and proprietary. The aim is to enable governments to use the technology, and for their own teams to be able to develop, manage and support this contact tracing app.” Colm Harte, Technical Director, NearForm

Built by experts

The COVID Green team is an expert group of committed technologists and innovators. COVID Green is a proven, robust, privacy-led solution with an easy to use interface. The team continues to maintain the app to ensure the tenets of privacy and security are followed in all downstream versions.

The lead maintainers of COVID Green are:

  • Colm Harte – Technical Director, NearForm. Colm helped the Irish Health Service Executive and the Department of Health build the COVID Tracker Ireland app. With more than 25 years of experience in the software industry, he offers a unique combination of thoughtful leadership and technical expertise in software architecture and development.
  • James M Snell – Head of NearForm Research. With more than 20 years’ experience in the software industry, James has become a well-known figure in the global Node.js community. He has been an author, co-author, contributor or editor of several internet standards. He is also a core contributor to the Node.js project, is a member of the Node.js Technical Steering Committee (TSC), and has served on the Node.js Foundation Board of Directors as the TSC representative. Prior to joining NearForm, James spent 16 years at IBM focusing on open standards, open source and enterprise adoption of emerging technologies.
  • Gar Mc Críosta – Product Manager, HSE. Gar spends much of his time trying to figure out what being a sociotechnologist is, so he can be one. Currently the HSE product lead for Ireland’s COVID Tracker app, Gar also works as a digital advisor to the CIO in the HSE. He is the founder of Business Model Adventures, an International Association of Software Architects (IASA) certified architect and an active contributor to IASA Global since 2006. Gar has facilitated the development of change programs in the areas of business model innovation, digital strategy, architecture and design across various indus­tries.
Covid Green on GitHub

83% of users opted in to share anonymised data and phone number