WCC introduces its HERMES COVID-19 Health Dashboard
International travel has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, with international arrivals down by 87% in January 2021 and little sign of recovery since then. Tourism and business travel can only recover by mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19 across borders. Solutions under consideration include introducing health passports for passengers and automated health controls on arrival. Anticipating the demand for innovative health security solutions, WCC has extended its HERMES Border Security solution to include a COVID-19 Health Dashboard.
The impact of the COVID-19 health crisis on international travel
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) fell by 72% in January-October 2020, curbed by slow virus containment, low traveler confidence, and international restrictions on travel. And if that was bad, international tourist arrivals plunged even further to 87% in January 2021, amid new outbreaks and even tighter travel restrictions. Truly a nightmare for the travel industry and for governments throughout the world, many of whom rely on international trade and tourism.
Airline and government initiatives pave the way to recovery
To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation, governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. The introduction of COVID-19 health controls at international borders requires airlines and border security officials to have accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.
A European initiative for COVID-19 health security
Popular European vacation countries, such as France and Spain, have long been pushing to introduce a European vaccination passport to confirm a passenger’s COVID-19 health status. They hope this will help to revive the hard-hit tourism industry this summer. The European Commission wants travelers to prove via a QR code on their phone that they have been vaccinated or tested negative. This proof – which all EU countries are obliged to honor – has been renamed the ‘Digital Green Certificate.’ The Digital Green Certificate not only gives a ‘green light’ to vaccinated people. Even those who have tested negative or have enough antibodies after a previous infection will have more freedom.
As early as June 2021, European citizens can expect to travel with a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ that’s valid throughout Europe.
The IATA Travel Pass COVID-19 initiative
Governments aren’t the only source of COVID-19 travel initiatives. IATA (the International Air Transport Association) has been developing its Travel pass concept since November 2020. IATA – with more than 290 member airlines – has a mission to represent, lead, and serve the airline industry, developing global commercial standards for the air transport industry. Given the impact on their industry, they have led the way in trying to mitigate COVID-19 health risks from International travel. The IATA Travel Pass is seen by many as essential to the successful revitalization of the international travel industry.
As more and more destinations impose COVID-19 testing requirements and consider abolishing quarantine for those vaccinated against COVID-19, airlines and air travelers face a confusing and challenging situation.
- Travelers need accurate information on COVID-19-related testing and vaccine requirements, as well as authorized test and vaccine centers.
- Airlines are often responsible for ensuring that their passengers comply with entry requirements, yet they have no way of verifying the authenticity of test and vaccine information presented by travelers.
- Paper-based processes used to manage existing health requirements (such as Yellow Fever vaccines) are not secure, are subject to fraud, are slow and cumbersome, and are not scalable.
- During the pandemic, airports and airlines carry only 10% of the usual volume of passengers, but COVID-19 health checks and restrictions using traditional methods mean that they still need additional staff to manage the necessary controls. As an illustration, recent reports indicate that holidaymakers could face 10-hour queues at UK airports during the summer.
Against this background, there is a clear need to provide governments, travelers, and industry stakeholders, with digital solutions to address these challenges while contributing to a safe and efficient re-opening of borders.
What is the IATA Travel Pass?
The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travelers store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 health tests or COVID-19 vaccinations. Managing and validating this information will be crucial, as governments are likely to require either verified test results or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The IATA Travel Pass will be more secure and efficient than current paper processes used to manage health requirements. An essential feature, given the potentially enormous scale of testing and verification work needed at borders.
The IATA Travel Pass complements the EU Green Certificate. IATA is confident that travelers can upload their test results and “proof of vaccination” certificates from these government initiatives into the IATA Travel Pass digital wallet and use them for international travel.
HERMES – advanced passenger screening
Governments and citizens need borders to be secure, but security measures should neither inhibit nor delay passengers. The WCC HERMES Border Management and Passenger Screening solution is a person-centric, integrated border security solution for screening Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to maximize security and passenger flow at borders. HERMES ensures both state-of-the-art security and optimum passenger flow at all kinds of borders, airports, and seaports.
Integrating IATA Travel Pass COVID-19 Health data
There is a proven need to integrate IATA Travel Pass details with border security processes, improving health security and passenger flows through arrivals. WCC has developed the COVID-19 Health Dashboard to seamlessly integrate COVID-19 Health data into the HERMES passenger screening process.
Using the IATA Travel Pass, passengers can create a secure and verified digital identity linked to their passport, verify their test/vaccination requirements and status, and upload certificates to their mobile. Their COVID-19 health data can be linked to their ticket information and made available along with other passenger information. Travelers always remain in control of their data, protecting their privacy. They must choose to share their health status with border police, health officials, and other stakeholders, such as airlines.
HERMES will receive the appropriate health status information from IATA travel pass or other health passport providers. The dashboard can then show the current health status of every passenger to a local health authority or border police agency. This control allows the local authorities an opportunity to act on incoming passenger information and potentially stop passengers before they cross your border.
While WCC’s focus is on introducing the new COVID-19 Health Dashboard for use by border agencies, WCC also foresees opportunities to apply the technology to other sectors. WCC looks forward to offering local health authorities their COVID-19 Health Dashboard as a standalone solution, alongside their existing passenger screening and border control products.
Opportunities to learn more
During the fourth ID & Security Webinar, WCC product specialists will introduce the COVID-19 Health Dashboard and describe how AI techniques can help identify known security risks and open up methods to predict previously unknown threats.
WCC is a leading provider of advanced ID/Security solutions for government agencies worldwide. WCC’s expertise and technology can help to mitigate border security challenges and increase global health security. If you would like more information, contact us to set up a call with our ID/Security experts.