Cardea is a complete, decentralized, off-the-shelf, open source codebase for sharing health data in a way that’s compliant with data privacy law

By Trevor Butterworth

Cardea emerged from a crisis, a law, and a technology.

The crisis was the global Covid pandemic, the law a US requirement that Americans must be able to access their health care data, and the technology was verifiable digital credentials, which enabled people to do just that—hold their data, share it in a privacy-preserving way, and have it authenticated without having to check in with the source of the data.

That’s a lot to unpack, which is why the community of developers who built and maintain Cardea have written a white paper to explain it all—the background, the mechanics of decentralized identity and verifiable credential technology, and the benefits.

While Cardea now has a white paper, it’s far from a theory: it has been built and you can deploy it right now. It was developed by Indicio for SITA, the world’s leading provider of IT to the air transport sector, and the government of Aruba, which saw it as a way to manage Covid testing, reopen the tourist-dependent island safely, and ensure traveler privacy.  

The trials were successful. The solution won SITA the decentralized identity and verifiable credential award at the 2022 European Identity and Cloud Conference, and Indicio has been nominated for a social impact award at the CRN Tech Impact Awards in September. The unique parts of its codebase were donated to Linux Foundation Public Health so that public health authorities anywhere had a decentralized, privacy preserving solution optimized for Covid testing and vaccination. That’s when it acquired a name, Cardea.

In proving that tamper-proof health data could be issued to travelers by their health providers and be verified by airlines and other countries without having to check back in with the health provider, Cardea has laid the foundation for something much bigger than Covid testing. Verifiable credential technology provides a way for all kinds of health data to be shared in a privacy-preserving and security-enhanced way. 

At Indicio, we call Cardea a Trusted Digital Ecosystem because it enables all the parties in the ecosystem to trust the data being shared and to do so without direct integrations with the source of the data. Trustworthy data means immediately actionable data. And that has revolutionary potential in health, travel, finance, and the public sector.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of what can be done with the technology; there’s a lot more, and we’ve striven to make the white paper as accessible as possible to the widest audience possible.

Download a PDF here.

You are also more than welcome to join our meetings to learn what’s next on the Cardea roadmap.

And if you want to know more about how Indicio is building Trusted Digital Ecosystem solutions, drop us a line!