COVID-19: Aviation’s help in preventing the spread out of future pandemics
We have witnessed what may be the greatest crisis of the twenty-first century. COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has affected all aspects of life worldwide. Airports, which transport millions of passengers every day, unwittingly became the entry point for this virus.
Airports have been playing an important role in limiting the spread of the pandemic. There is no clear mechanism in place to track passenger movement, screen and test passengers for infection, and assist authorities in monitoring and geo-fencing quarantined cases. However, the aviation industry has updated many new technologies to help them join the fight against COVID 19.
Airport Help in Identity management
Airports must reengineer air travel procedures in the coming days to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Passenger screening and testing should be a mandatory part of passenger processing, just like a travel document, and should take place well before departure or arrival. This health-record data, which is collected from a network of health centers, can be tracked and acted upon. This can be accomplished with a mobile-enabled identity management application that includes identification and medical records and is powered by assurance levels (ISO/IEC 29115 Authentication Assurance Framework).
OneID is an ACI and IATA initiative to enable a frictionless, passenger-centric process that allows an individual to assert their identity online or in person to the required level at each process step while maintaining personal data privacy. OneID, modified or supplemented with medical records and tracking systems in the case of self-quarantined passengers, can assist countries in containing the pandemic.
Based on the updated health records, airports can quickly deploy and transform existing eGates to screen, track, and monitor passenger movement. For example, prior to travel, each passenger will be required to generate a unique ID and undergo a medical examination (in this case, a COVID-19 screening) at the airport or one of the network hospitals, a process similar to Visa stamping, which is required in most countries. Those who test negative will be allowed to travel, while those who test positive will be required to undergo additional medical testing. The detained passenger intercepted at the point of arrival or departure (second round of testing) will be placed in a quarantine/medical zone for further action, with the goal of containing the transmission at the source. OneID can also facilitate the necessary collaboration between countries and medical staff for this exercise.
Airport Help in Quarantine management
There have already been reports of people attempting to avoid quarantine while authorities attempt to detain them, and this trend is likely to continue. Airports can use OneID to enable eGates to deny entry or exit based on facial recognition or RFID flags. When passengers arriving at the airport are screened and are found to have a fever, an RFID/ facial recognition-aided flag will prevent them from passing through the exit gate. This will assist authorities in keeping detained cases in quarantine, preventing cases from slipping through the cracks. These contactless checks can be implemented quickly and at a low cost.
Furthermore, whether passengers are self-quarantined or under supervision, the identity management application can enable location services to geo fence them post-travel. It could also serve as a conduit for interacting with affected people in order to provide essential services and medical assistance.
Help In Create Airports Safe Zones
The most difficult challenge for airports is keeping passengers comfortable amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Access to information, social distancing, staff screening, and safety maintenance can allay these fears and make travelers feel more at ease.
To ensure physical separation, airports must limit the number of passengers they can accommodate in a single day. Data from OneID can help determine when capacity is reached. Furthermore, incorporating more dispersed retail spaces, gesture/mobile-based touch-free transactions, and indoor navigation systems to direct passenger movement can help keep the required distance.
Help In Create Airports Information Zones
Airports can serve as information hubs for COVID-19, in addition to preventing infected people from traveling. This can be accomplished through the use of advertising displays, interactive touch-free kiosks, or the Identity Management mobile app.
Staff Health And Hygiene Measures
Airport facilities and staff must also adhere to strict health and safety protocols at all levels, including sanitizing baggage. Airports should operate like niche pharmaceutical companies, with virtually no margin for error in air and surface quality. Both the facility and its employees, like doctors and nurses at hospitals currently serving COVID-19 patients, must adhere to strict protocols.
All of these measures necessitate a reconsideration of current processes and methods to assist airports, stakeholders, and passengers in implementing these changes. Cooperation in adhering to the new process and adhering to revised norms will go a long way toward containing the ongoing pandemic. We are, after all, in this together.
Airports help in fighting against future pandemic
Until now, a coronavirus vaccine is developed and society achieves immunity, the aviation industry still needs to ensure flight safety since there can be other potential pandemics in the future. While current proposals from airlines, airports, and industry bodies seek to return to "business as usual" rather than address the underlying issues, and are unlikely to provide the necessary controls. People will lack confidence in flying if risk controls are not robust.
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