Interoperability: connecting health and travel pass apps

Table of Contents

Recovery and the sustained future of travel

An important part of re-establishing a resilient travel and tourism economy is technology and the interoperability of applications to provide secure, reliable, and authentic health, legal and travel information on the traveller and their destination.

Governments around the world have developed applications and processes that have evolved to be digital hubs, providing local authorities with the ability to house up-to-date information on the status of a traveller so that the majority can move seamlessly through border crossings, and access transportation and hospitality services. The travel, tourism and transportation industries have also adopted technical solutions to ease access to airlines and move the passenger smoothly through the check-in process, and they are working on expanding these digital environments to connect to other services.

The combination of multiple types of online forms, health applications, biometrics, and digital IDs has created a unique need for interoperability between these applications so that the regular traveller is not overwhelmed by their complexit

Electronic travel visa authorisations, used in the US (ESTA), Canada (ETA), Australia and New Zealand, are being adopted by many countries including the UK (UPT), which will require anyone wishing to travel to seek permission in advance of travel with the respective country. These online applications will gather information, assess the risk of the individual traveller, and approve beforehand their right to access the country.

The combination of multiple types of online forms, health applications, biometrics, and digital IDs has created a unique need for interoperability between these applications so that the regular traveller is not overwhelmed by their complexity. The travel and tourism industry is concerned that the regular traveller or traditional spenders on travel – families, older travellers and retirees – will find the rules and processes too hard, creating a fear of making a mistake and being stuck far from home.

Solutions were required for this potentially chaotic technology and logistical problem. So starting in the winter of 2020, the World Travel & Tourism Council, Trust Over IP Foundation, the Good Health Pass Collaborative, and industry associations, began to hold regular brain storming/information sharing meetings bringing together the travel and tourism industry, public health, technology companies and governments to focus on interoperability and the standardisation of the technology being developed. This worldwide effort pushed traditional competitors to work together for the sake of the global travel and tourism industry.

Last year, Health Care Services International Inc. (Novus Health/Travel Navigator) was one of the many international first adopter organisations that took part in the weekly meetings to organise the response to the worldwide need to integrate and connect the applications being developed to manage travel safely and healthily. We were one of the first to develop two different prototypes in partnership with a UK company and a Canadian company who had developed secure biometric ID systems that were trusted by government agencies. A truly interoperable mobile application was developed within our Duty of Care mobile application by incorporating user-controlled biometrics and a secure ID wallet, with the ability to securely upload and share approved medical/test information with approved and authorised requesting bodies.

Using technology to help customers and industries

The digitalisation of travel, accessing countries, transportation and hospitality will continue to expand, with more applications being developed to ease the burden on the traveller and the businesses catering to them. The pandemic not only accelerated the development of applications to manage health, it also identified the need to create seamless, touchless, private and secure interoperable mechanisms to connect these same applications.

How will this affect us in our industry? Having a simple seamless technology solution that enables and encourages travelling will help restart global travel. The insurance industry will also be able to benefit from this boost in health pass technology and the interoperability of the health information housed in these applications. Travel insurance and travel healthcare providers will be able to verify the health status of a potential policyholder with authorisation and see if they are compliant with vaccination or testing rules developed by destinations. 

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