ETSI releases White Paper on the role of standards for ICT to mitigate the impact of a pandemic

Sophia Antipolis, 28 May 2020

Today, ETSI unveils a new white paper, written by the officials of the ETSI EP eHealth group, highlighting the role of standards developing organizations (SDOs) in developing standards for ICT to mitigate the impact of a pandemic. COVID-19 is not a mild pandemic, it is a serious, often lethal, health condition, the impact of which is seriously detrimental to social and economic life across the world. The ETSI paper acts to identify a "call to arms" to standards bodies and their constituent members to ensure that when the next pandemic arrives, we can rely on greater harmonization of the supply chain.

ICT today has its foundations in data and has passed many of the hurdles of a developing technology of achieving reliability and interoperability. It has now moved to become largely utilitarian. In much the same way that society has learnt to expect electricity and clean water, ICT capabilities are now expected to be available on demand. Driving this utility to social good at this time is what this White Paper addresses. All of eHealth depends on ICT. Related standards should therefore be designed with the assumption that they will be applied in a health environment and as part of a global solution to evolving health issues.

ETSI eHealth has identified over 10 ETSI groups involved in “developing standards for ICT to mitigate the impact of a pandemic”, including the newly created ISG E4P (Europe for Privacy-Preserving Privacy Protection). The ISG E4P aims to develop a framework and the consistent set of specifications for proximity tracing systems. The work will facilitate the development of backward compatible and interoperable proximity tracing applications to be used to combat pandemics by helping to break viral transmission chains. ISG E4P held its first meeting on 26 May with a record participation of government and EC representatives, vendors, operators, research bodies, ethic, legal and cybersecurity players. The group has already been referred to in the French government press kit related to the STOP-COVID application.

The specific nature of any pandemic will be unknown in advance – the specific pathology will be, almost by definition, novel. However, the human immunological response to any infectious disease is the same. This further suggests that common aspects of using ICT technologies as a backbone utility for allowing accurate data to be used to break the back of the pandemic is always going to be a common factor irrespective of the specific nature of the pandemic.

If you want to join the eHealth group, contact us at:

Read the full white paper.

About ETSI
ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society.  We are a not-for-profit body with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from 65 countries and five continents. Members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization (ESO). For more information please visit us at

Claire Boyer
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