How can digitalization make travel safer and seamless?
How can digitalization make travel safer and seamless? The pandemic has altered the travel industry and taught us valuable lessons for the future
Digitalization in the travel industry is revolutionizing the entire airport experience. Take for example the one executive who glances at her watch as she hurries towards the automated self-service check-in before hastening towards the eGates for automated passport control. As she travels often, she welcomes how digitalization makes border control easier and more secure.
The spread of COVID-19 necessitated less physical interaction and encouraged social distancing to safeguard hygiene, catalyzing change in the travel and tourism sector. As a result, the whole passenger experience from the moment you arrive at the airport to the time when you board the aircraft has now increasingly become contactless and eased by digital solutions.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way that we travel, what valuable lessons has it taught us?
Contactless verification makes travel safer
Even before COVID-19 struck, the travel industry was embracing contactless, secure verification techniques at border-crossing points. Take the EU-funded D4FLY project, which was introduced in 2019 to improve document and identity verification techniques at borders.
The pandemic has merely served to accelerate this trend. Today, more and more passengers welcome the greater ease and security offered by self-service. Automated eGates mean that passengers can avoid queueing to have their passports checked manually, and instead quickly complete this stage in their journey. eGates not only add up to a convenient, seamless travel experience, they also make security checks even more accurate. Moreover, they allow border control officers to monitor and focus on individuals and areas that require their attention.
In Luxembourg, for example, biometric eKiosks and self-service pre-registration solutions have been installed to improve accuracy, transparency, and efficiency as greater volumes of passengers take to the skies. In Bangladesh, meanwhile, eGates have been introduced at the capital’s international airport to provide safe, secure, and highly accurate identity document verification.
Innovation speeds up passport processing
Until recently, the UK authorities required someone else, namely a countersignatory, to sign any passport application to prove the identity of the person applying. Nowadays, digital verification has replaced this time-consuming, tedious procedure.
Manually inputting personal information makes passport processing more vulnerable to human error. Digitalization, therefore, leads to greater security and transparency. An added plus is that citizens can be alerted electronically when their passports are ready.
ICAO calls for standardized digital travel authorizations
A recent ICAO report made an important step towards digital travel authorizations that are globally consistent and standardized, which would reduce the number of paper-based forms and processes and speed up the verification of certain visa holders, such as visa-exempt foreign nationals.
Veridos’ SmartTravel is online visa application process, which falls in line with ICAO’s new specifications.
Smart solutions keep travelers safe and healthy
VeriGO TrueSeal is a secure platform that allows for the secure, convenient, and privacy-friendly digital attestation of sensitive documents, such as vaccination certificates. It increases airport efficiency too thanks to its ease of use: another mobile device can simply scan the digital seal.
The platform was introduced in 2020 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, safeguard citizens’ health and manage the health crisis.
Of course, sensitive documents need to be securely stored. This means that only essential information should be included to keep data to a minimum. They should also be available as hard copies so that everyone can access them. And it needs to be possible to verify them remotely and on the go.
More digital infrastructure please, and faster
The existing trend towards modernization and digitalization needs to speed up, according to the International Center for Migration Policy Development in a report on how COVID-19 has changed border control. Biometrics, artificial intelligence, and contactless equipment in border management can help avoid physical contact in scenarios where physical distancing is desired to prevent infection and so enhance the health security of both border guards and travelers. Moreover, it can help border security agencies reconcile secure and speedy border checks, while keeping the experience convenient for travelers, the report continued. Robust technology can only benefit both travelers and airports in the long run by making border control safer and more efficient.
The pandemic brought most passenger travel to a halt. It also catalyzed change at airports, encouraging them to promptly introduce digital measures to safeguard the health of passengers and staff alike. This has brought about positive change. Ultimately, digital infrastructure is accurate, secure, and improves the travel experience for the passenger.
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