As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, digital health passports may be the key to enabling people to travel safely again and vital to the future of the travel industry. The idea is already taking off with a British cybersecurity company that recently signed a contract to sell 50 million of their digital health passports to 15 countries.
Tech entrepreneur Louis-James Davis, who developed the Covi-Pass Digital Health Passport, said, “We firmly believe that the digital health passport, alongside government-approved testing kits, is the key to removing the lockdown restrictions in a gradual and controlled way.” (Healthcare-in-europe.com)
The idea for digital health passports has been around for a while, but the current pandemic has been a catalyst to develop the technology further so it is easy to use, better addresses security concerns, and can be implemented quickly. A vaccine could still be more than a year away, and digital health passports could help to keep the beleaguered travel industry alive while providing reassurance to concerned travelers.
While digital health passports may differ among providers, the basic idea behind them is that the user has an app on their mobile device that can be used alongside their driver’s license or passport while traveling. The user enters and verifies their identifying information, and then, when they are tested for COVID-19, the test provider/medical authority can certify their results and health status within that app.
A digital health passport can include such information as positive antibody test results, recent negative COVID-19 test results, and eventually, proof of vaccination.
The app – using a QR code or wearable device – can be quickly scanned at airports, cruise terminals, or border security to ensure people are healthy before letting them travel. These passports could also be used to access to office space, shopping center, entertainment venue, attraction or sporting event – virtually any location where people congregate. This could be invaluable in preventing further outbreaks around the globe and allowing people to return to work and other daily activities.
The key to the effectiveness and success of digital health passports is widespread adoption. If airports and other facilities require it to travel, people will get them. But medical authorities will also have to integrate digital passports into their current testing and reporting process, and the technology to scan the passports will have to be implemented at travel gateways around the world.
Policies will also have to be created and standards set. How recent must a person’s test results be to allow them to fly, for example? Airlines may require that you get tested within days of your travel date.
But other countries have already started to address these hurdles.
According to a recent Reuter’s article, countries like Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China have been quick to adopt and mandate the use of digital health passport apps. They are also using additional technologies such as apps that indicate how crowded an area is before you get there and trackers to show if you’ve been in contact with a person who has tested positive. It is only a matter of time before this mix of technology and new policies and procedures are embraced all over the globe.
The travel industry will need to capitalize on the latest innovations to recover from this pandemic and regain the trust of its employees and customers. By embracing forward-thinking solutions like digital health passports, health screening kiosks and location tracking, you can effectively mitigate risk while reassuring and protecting the people in your care.
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