Oct 01, 2020

Ensuring Safer Global Travel Through the Commons Project Foundation

By Afolabi Oshinowo T’21

This summer, I worked at The Commons Project (TCP) Foundation, a digital healthcare organization focused on providing a platform where users can easily and safely access their health data. One of the products we developed is the CommonPass (CP)—a platform that enables users to upload their negative COVID-19 test results from an accredited laboratory and use the CP as a digital passport to cross international borders.

I was a member of the product market strategy team. For one of my first projects, I had to develop a global map of all the major Electronic Health Record Vendors and accredited laboratories. The overarching goal was to identify partners for CP. I quickly brought myself up to speed on topics such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Health Level 7 (HL7) standards for lab data and the types of relevant accreditation for laboratories that were recognized internationally. Once completed, the research led to several important discoveries. For instance, laboratories whose results are accepted globally have an accreditation system governed by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and its regional bodies (whenever you see ISO 15189, think global accreditation). Any lab we would partner with required that accreditation. Also, a group we had not considered was the Genomic Laboratories (primarily for DNA tests), who had entered the market with additional testing capacities for many countries. That discovery has brought about a crucial partnership that will permit safe travel across major airports. 

Another memorable occasion for me was organizing a convening about the CommonPass framework for TCP and major stakeholders from several industries like representatives from major airlines, travel agencies, tech firms, and cabinet members of fifty national governments. It became a mini UN convention. I enjoyed listening to speakers from several countries discuss their prevailing challenges in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and their desire to partner with TCP for safe travel. It was gratifying to know that the project I helped develop would enable the safe reopening of borders and rejigging of economies. Already, the CP framework had been adopted by the Rwandan government and played a prominent role in screening truck drivers for the SARS-CoV-2 as they crossed its borders with those of its East African neighbors.

I woke up every day during the summer with excitement, knowing I would contribute to the success of a product that would bring nations out of their predicament. I was also delighted that my medical background was useful as I made discoveries on new companies, new tests for the COVID-19, and bottlenecks in testing capacities worldwide, while identifying ways TCP could partner. With the support of Tuck Gives, I was able to work in an organization that was making a social impact.