Seamless Travel: Covid-19 and Standardizing a Contactless Journey

Representatives from several regulatory bodies and different parts of the global transport industry came together to discuss ideas, innovations and relationships related to standardizing contactless technologies. Among those in attendance were Michael Hardin the Director of Policy, Entry/Exit Transformation Office at US Customs and Border Protection, Ali Chegini the Director of System Safety and Health System Safety at the Rail Safety & Standards Board, Helena Bononi the Vice-President of the World Travel & Tourism Council, Jeremy Springall the Vice President of Border Management at SITA, and Simon Wilcox the Managing Director at Wordsworth Consulting Limited. 

The conversation was focused on what the transportation industry can do to implement and standardize a contactless journey while providing a seamless passenger experience. The panel also discussed which technologies organizations can prioritize across the mobility ecosystem in order to build a model for passengers in the upcoming year. Additionally, they talked about where the low-hanging fruit is for the transport sector and what industry organizations can do to facilitate the adoption of these norms.  

Covid-19 has increased the importance around a travel system focused on checking the health status of travelers and accelerated the need to have a seamless, no-contact travel model. Airways have responded to this pandemic by implementing interactive passenger systems that can risk-assess passengers and clear them well in advance to arriving at the airport, significantly improving the flow of travelers and processing times.  

E-visas or visas with mobile device captured biometrics have been used to augment passenger clearing and processing; Biometric checkpoints have also been rolled out on a large scale in response to Covid-19. 

Mr. Hardin commented that the case for automated, contactless, and seamless travel is being strengthened by Covid-19, but also highlighted that there is a major resource problem as everyone is taking a hit from the pandemic.  

The panel also discussed how important government, public and private collaboration is regarding Covid-19.  Collaboration and partnership will allow agencies to establish an interoperable regulatory framework that will develop standards of hazards and as things progressed, illuminate on how to control the next one better.  

When asked who should lead standardization, Mr. Hardin commented “the government with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) taking the lead, while seeking guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other regulatory bodies.