The first digital “vaccine passports” for post-pandemic travel have been designed as easy-to-use applications that will one day merge with other travel platforms, such as airline applications, say their developers.
Although popularly known as vaccine passports, the applications also include information such as the status of the Covid-19 test and are in the testing phase in various locations around the world.
Clear, the trusted traveler program that helps travelers get through airport security faster, is testing a Covid-19 test or vaccination verification app on select flights to Hawaii as part of a pilot program with the state. Clear’s Health Pass app is already being used by some sports leagues and museums to check the Covid-19 status of ticket holders, the company said.
Other organizations, such as the non-profit Commons Project Foundation and the International Air Transport Association or IATA, are introducing their own apps that also aim to allow passengers to quickly prove that they have undergone the Covid-19 test or the vaccination necessary to cross a border. The apps would save travelers the hassle of uploading health documents to each destination country’s immigration website.
Clearly, Project Commons and IATA are just part of a broad group of companies, including large tech companies, developing digital products to allow people to safely share their Covid-19 vaccinated or negative status to enter. a country, a stadium or other public space. .
Since many people continue to encounter obstacles when trying to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, health pass designers intend to provide a more seamless experience for the next step.
“We’ve really been focused on simplicity from day one,” said Alan Murray Hayden, director of airport, passenger and security products at IATA, which counts American Airlines and Emirates among its members. “So much so, that when I presented a Travel Pass demo to our senior management, I was terrified that they were going to say, ‘We’ve given you all this money and you only have five or six app screens to show.’ “
Requirements to prove vaccinated status or a negative Covid-19 test to enter countries like Seychelles and Cyprus can lead to longer lines and delays, as airport staff manually check passenger health paperwork. Digital health passes will not be mandatory for airline passengers, Murray Hayden said, but their gradual acceptance will provide a kind of “herd immunity to queuing” at the airport.
“If we can get 70% of customers away from checking agents, checking agents can focus on helping people who don’t have phones or are not used to technology,” he said.
Health pass apps aim to guide users through the data entry process step-by-step and keep the amount of information they need to enter to a minimum, in part by investing in features like passport chip scanning.
Some, like the Clear app, also use back-end networks to automatically link a user’s Covid-19 status from their selected vaccine or testing center. The technology aims to make the pre-flight experience less stressful for customers, said Caryn Seidman Becker, president and CEO of Clear, which is operated by Alclear LLC. And pulling a passenger’s Covid-19 status directly from a healthcare provider, rather than having users upload it themselves, can prevent fraudulent vaccination certificates or test results from being shared, he said.
Users of Clear’s Health Pass, which is built into the company’s main app but available free even to those who don’t pay for Clear, are given a QR code to scan at the door once they have linked their account with their test or information about vaccines and the airline with which they fly.
CommonPass, the Commons Project app, also produces a QR code to scan at the gate, though it hopes that airlines will eventually be able to integrate a passenger’s verified fit-to-fly status into their boarding pass barcode.
The Commons Project and IATA said they also plan to offer the architecture of their health passes to developers of other applications, such as airlines, once the user experience of the first versions has been tested and refined. Meanwhile, Clear is in talks to integrate its Health Pass platform into the applications of its partner companies, Seidman Becker said.
Though phrases like “vaccine passport” and “health passport” have become common, CommonPass was more inspired by the design of boarding passes than passports, said Kathryn Tucker, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the nonprofit organization. profit, whose goal is to create digital products for users often ignored by big tech companies. The final screen of the app is even in the form of a boarding pass, complete with a tear-off digital sheet.
The Commons Project in part wanted its design to show that the status of someone’s Covid-19 test, which remains a key use for applications even as vaccines increase, reflects a moment in time, he said.
“Unlike a passport, a document that you have a relationship with for a decade, boarding passes come and go, pile up on your phone and are meant to be more utilitarian,” he said. “We also like the use of this metaphor to emphasize that this is a basic document that is exchanged between your phone and the airline agent or border agent only.”
Write to Katie Deighton at [email protected]
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