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German government commissions SAP and Telekom with Corona warning app

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SAP and Deutsche Telekom are developing the "Corona Warning App".  The two project managers Martin Fassunge, Senior Development Manager SAP, and Peter Lorenz, Head of the Digital Solutions Portfolio Unit at T-Systems, explain the assignment from the German government.

Mr. Fassunge, Mr. Lorenz: The German government is getting you on board for the Corona Warning App.  What is the division of responsibilities between the companies?

Martin Fassunge

Martin Fassunge, Senior Development Manager SAP

Fassunge: SAP and Telekom know each other well.  We are a well-rehearsed team.  SAP provides the software technology via a technical platform.  We drive solution development forward.  Together, we are working flat out on an open source solution.  This is a central demand that data protection and the public place on us: create transparency, offer no chance for backdoors.  This is how we create trust.

Lorenz: We do a lot of things together as partners beyond this project.  Deutsche Telekom is contributing its strengths in terms of processes relating to network and mobile communications technology.  We also take care of secure and efficient operations.  In addition, there is Telekom Security.  Our security specialists will thoroughly test the system. 

How exactly does the app work?

Fassunge: The Corona Warning App measures the distance between people via Bluetooth.  It enables mobile devices to remember contacts that have met the specified criteria (proximity and time).  To do this, the devices temporarily exchange encrypted identities with each other.  If users of the Corona Warning App test positive for the Corona virus, they can voluntarily have their contacts informed by the App.  In case of infection, the encrypted IDs of the infected person are made available to all mobile phones of the App users.  The comparison of the IDs takes place on the client.  These can then check whether they have been in contact with the transmitted IDs.  If there is a match, the user is warned about the critical contact.

What do the data protection authorities say?

Peter Lorenz

Peter Lorenz, Head of Portfolio Unit Digital Solutions at T-Systems.

Lorenz: The app stores data locally, so information remains on the smartphone.  That's also the approach that Apple and Google generally take.  We also work closely with the data protection community.  We coordinate every step of development with the German Federal Office for Information Security.  The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, BfDI, has also been closely involved from the outset.  Together, this leads to a high level of security.

Fassunge: The use of the app is voluntary.  It serves exclusively to inform the public.  The app does not collect data relevant to decision-making in administration and politics.  Our common goal is broad acceptance.  Only if many people use it can the app make a contribution towards fighting the spread of the pandemic.

What are the next steps?

Fassunge: We will keep you informed about the progress on the developer platform Github. In the open source community the motto is: release early, release often.  Therefore we report from the early stages of development and will continuously publish milestones on Github. Programmers and other interested people can exchange ideas with us.

Lorenz: Longer term, the plan is  the design of the process chains. So the question is: What route does the information take, from user to user via the public health department and laboratory?  We are doing this together with the Federal Ministry of Health.  Product design is also on the agenda - for example for login or intuitive operation of the app.  SAP ERP systems account for 77 percent of all transaction revenue worldwide, and over 200 million users access SAP cloud applications.  Deutsche Telekom offers service apps to millions of consumers.  This expertise is part of the DNA of both companies.

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Special Corona

Information related to the Corona pandemic and about the Corona warning app.

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