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Singapore’s Approach to Digital Health Certificates

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In a innovative move towards revolutionising healthcare verification, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, GovTech, has unveiled the Notαrise system. This innovative platform not only enhances government operations but also marks a significant leap forward in ensuring the credibility of digitally verified health certificates.

The Notαrise system plays a pivotal role in GovTech’s ongoing commitment to safeguarding Pre-Departure Test (PDT) HealthCerts and Vaccination or Recovery HealthCerts, ensuring their integrity remains intact. This initiative addresses a critical need for trustworthy documentation in the era of digital healthcare.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has harnessed the power of the Notαrise platform to authenticate and verify the HealthCerts of its citizens, ushering in a new era of secure healthcare documentation. The platform enables MOH to digitally endorse local certificates, ensuring their acceptance both domestically and abroad, particularly for individuals embarking on international journeys.

Notαrise streamlines the process for travellers, eliminating the need to manually upload digital PDT certificates obtained from clinics. Instead, COVID-19 PDT HealthCerts are now automatically issued and shared with users via email and the Singpass app, thanks to the seamless integration with clinics and relevant issuers.

One of the key technological foundations of the Notαrise platform is the OpenAttestation (OA) architecture, an integral component of Singapore’s Smart Nation program. OA leverages open-source frameworks and blockchain technology to simplify the authentication and endorsement of documents, setting a new standard for document security.

The origins of the OA framework can be traced back to the imperative need for secure documents in an era marked by widespread document fraud. This led to the development of OpenCerts, a system designed to combat fraud in training and educational certificates. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Notαrise recognised the urgent need for a solution to verify health certificates, culminating in the creation of this innovative platform.

Notαrise establishes an interoperable standard for various types of health certificates, from Pre-Departure Test results to vaccination or recovery certificates. These certificates are not only digitally authenticated but also digitally endorsed, streamlining the sharing process, and providing an additional layer of assurance to authorities.

To ensure both swiftness and security, the Notαrise team has implemented a technology stack primarily reliant on GovTech’s SHIP-HATS solution. This is complemented by open-source frontend and backend frameworks, hosting infrastructure, and serverless backend services.

The open-source nature of OA ensures transparency, providing online resources such as base codes and guides for easy accessibility. Blockchain technology empowers private tech issuers to independently verify PDTs, enhancing the system’s resilience against centralisation.

Despite the efficiency of Lambda computing services, the team encountered occasional delays in HealthCerts verifications due to the “cold start” phenomenon. To address this, the team ensured the initialisation of at least one execution environment, significantly reducing verification times in a strategy known as a “warm start.”

Clear and constant communication within the team and across the ecosystem, including with integrators like Singpass and private technological providers, played a crucial role in overcoming challenges and ensuring smooth operations. The diverse skill set of the team proved invaluable, fostering innovation through a range of perspectives.

Autoscaling emerged as a vital feature, preventing performance issues during spikes in portal users. By automatically adjusting computing capacity, the platform ensures a seamless experience for users obtaining their HealthCert.

To enhance user experience, the platform offers round-the-clock customer support with a one-day response time. User data protection measures, including authentication methods through Singpass integration and alternative login procedures, further bolster security.

Feedback from various sources, including usability testing and social media, has been instrumental in refining the platform’s accessibility and user experience. The team’s responsiveness is evident in their incorporation of user suggestions, as exemplified by visually impaired user’s feedback.

The release of a minimum viable product (MVP) represented the initial step, prioritising functionality and essential requirements. The Notαrise team iteratively improved the platform, addressing bugs and streamlining processes over time.

After a three-month development period, the initial version of the product was released, enabling the generation of PDT and Vaccination HealthCerts. The team continued refining the platform, automating tasks like the manual uploading of PCR certificates, further streamlining the process.

The introduction of “Recovery Certificates” filled a critical gap for individuals naturally vaccinated against post-COVID. The Notαrise team continues to explore new use cases for tamper-resistant digital certificates, leveraging their robust tech stack for continued innovation in digital healthcare verification.


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