Contact follow-up: Praise for Luca, Telekom and SAP oppose it


In the first week of March, the federal and state governments agreed that in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, “the mandatory documentation for contact tracking can also be done in electronic form, for example via apps”. The Luca app from the Berlin startup Nexenio, for which Smudo von der Fanta Vier, in particular, is drumming, is currently in the public eye.

The mobile application has many fans. Sectors affected by the lockdown, such as gastronomy and culture, hope that it will take a big step towards opening concepts. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) announced on Sundaythat the Luca app will be the first federal state to be used nationwide, voluntarily and “free of charge” in all areas that are willing to open, thus ending the “mess of paper”. The state government pays license fees for the operator, and people without a smartphone can use a key fob to log in “in retail stores, restaurants or gyms”.

The heads of the state and senate chancelleries of the federal states are currently discussing a possible nationwide solution with the head of the Federal Chancellery, Helge Braun (CDU). The time, place and availability of the contact person would have to be “documented with sufficient precision and the data in the event of an infection made directly available to the responsible health department in a usable form,” it had said in advance. But it is also conceivable to develop “a technical gateway for access to the health authorities” and to link it to Sormas, for example.

An initiative by startups that offer their own solutions for digital check-ins has spoken out against an exclusive nationwide introduction of the Luca app. On Sunday, T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom) and SAP also got involved, the main developers of the Corona Warning App (CWA), which is aimed at breaking chains of infection. According to a sketch available from heise online, they are offering to build an “open platform for digital contact tracking” with an “Open Standard Gateway”.

A corresponding system has already been developed to 80 percent and is being promoted by the Saarland SAP partner Abat + together with the CWA consortium, according to the paper. Operating concepts and network design including the transition to the secure federal network are in progress. All relevant existing applications from “May I come in” to “Bin da” to Luca would be “proactively integrated via a community and supported in the necessary adaptation work”.

“The CWA can also be upgraded for the rollout of the function at short notice and then be used alongside the other apps,” write T-Systems and SAP. This should also implement the function with its “massive user base” of 26 million in addition to a cluster detection expected in April, in order to really support a “structured opening” of events and locations over a wide area. The platform will be included in the CWA’s open source program and published on GitHub. Initially, the health authorities would simply be connected through portal-based access. A download of the lists for an import into Sormas is supported, a deeper integration can take place.

So far, the Federal Ministry of Health had refused a check-in option via the Corona warning app to confirm the voluntary nature of the operation. The planned cluster option now provides that users can check-in with a QR code in locations and at events. This should allow you to warn contacts of the same event about an infection, even if they are more than two meters away from you and the normal Bluetooth measurement does not work. However, contact details are not sent to the health department.

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