The current pandemic has affected all types of businesses and industries and has brought forward new technologies and innovations. What will the future of travel look like post COVID-19? We break down some of the most prominent technologies in travel tech that are here to stay post COVID-19.
People will want to travel again – and they will. Expect leisure travel to make a comeback although it remains unclear exactly when travel will fully recover. Even if the road towards a full recovery may be a long and unprofitable run for airlines, leisure travel is inevitable as it is embedded in our culture.
Tourism is an in disposable facet of global economy, so expect people returning to the skies. Treatment protocols against the pandemic will prove to be particularly helpful. Business travel is set to return as well, however the robustness of business travel moving forward is open to debate. Traveling to cities like London or New York for a conference or a meeting may lessen as the adoption of video conferences increase.
Airlines are going to need to get creative on how they attract and retain new customers, and how they can keep their businesses above water. The latest in travel tech is the adoption of AI and Machine Learning technologies that allow for faster customer feedback. This feedback can in turn be used to personalize and disseminate price drops and comparisons to potential customers.
As the vast majority of travelers use the Internet to plan the bulk of their trip; web scraping technologies enable online booking agents to expand, review and monitor prices to offer the best package for their user. Web scraping can enable airlines to track customer feedback and preferences as well.
However, before the travel industry can bounce back, people must feel safe to travel again in light of Covid-19. The widespread public perception is that airports and planes are hotbeds for virus transmission. In recent years, plans have become more packed with travelers as airlines try to fit in as many passengers as they can.
Disinfecting public transportation is posing several challenges and new opportunities. Companies and public institutes such as New York Metropolitan Transit Authority will need to start investing in antiviral travel tech to regain customer trust. The MTA, which operates New York City subways has launched a program to implement ultraviolet light to disinfect subways and buses. The lamps, utilize a type of high-intensity UVC technology that eliminates 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
The pandemic’s hidden digital divide
The current pandemic has really opened our eyes to the importance of interconnectivity. Lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines helped us realize how our progress and prosperity is a function dependent upon one other, and we can clearly see this on an individual-micro level and on a group-macro level (companies, groups, governments).
The larger the company, the more complex the ecosystem of partners and their interdependence. Studies show that this is particularly true in developing countries where brewing beer sustains millions of livelihoods dependent on a fragmented and traditional trade such as corner shops, grocery stores and small retail.
Naturally, as a company grows larger, a more complex ecosystem of partners is required, but what about smaller micro retailers? The current pandemic has shed light on a critical weakness for small retailers. In most developed countries, the general consensus is that citizens enjoy high speed internet access therefore transitioning a business from brick-and-mortar to online seems relatively straightforward (with some training and practice). However, when we look at other countries where Wi-Fi is not as readily available, or when citizens have to walk lengthy distances to access Wi-Fi, that’s when you understand the daily impact of the digital divide.
As the pandemic continues, access to technology becomes another source of vulnerability and inequality as smaller retailers struggle to make the shift to digital, which only makes it harder for them to deliver across their value chain. Businesses that played vital roles in their communities are now unable to meet the growing demands online.
The pandemic has forced us to face the issue of the digital divide; while some might think we are all moving toward a digitally enabled future, the reality is that there are many communities across the world still falling behind. The issue of what needs to be done rests in the hands of governments and leaders worldwide to ensure that digital inclusion is extended to all citizens and disadvantaged groups.
UK to rollout first-round of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently gave the green light to rollout the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for commercial use in the UK.
The first batch of vaccines are already making their way to the UK, with 800,000 units expected in the coming days. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said that the NHS will do its part in contacting people for the vaccine shot.
Based on vaccine storage requirements (-70°C), hospitals will be the first to receive supplies since they already have the correct storage facilities; the first round will likely take place in hospitals for care home staff, NHS staff and patients.
While the typical vaccine usually takes 10 years to be fully accepted, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was developed and introduced in just 10 months.
The UK has ordered enough units to vaccinate 20 million people – around 40 million doses in total. These doses will be given out as soon as they are made available by Pfizer in Belgium. The first round is expected next week, and “several millions” will be made available throughout December said Hancock. He also added that the majority of the rollout will take place next year.
The vaccine will be free, and it will not be mandatory. In addition, there are 3 ways of vaccinating citizens in the UK
- Vaccination Centers
- In the community, with general practitioners and pharmacists
As we speak, 50 hospitals are on stand-by and vaccination centers in venues like conference centers or sport stadiums are now being set up. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will hopefully mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
New technology has made COVID-19 group tests possible
An independent technology and product development company, The Technology Partnership (TTP) has developed CoTest, a pooled screening device for conducting COVID-19 group tests.
The vaccine is coming but when and who will get it first still remains unclear, but what is for sure is that testing cannot stop now, or in the next year at the very least. TTP states that their solution allows tests to be done on up to 40 people at a time, revealing the result within 30 minutes.
The equipment used for testing is reportedly easy to handle – samples are taken the conventional way, through a nasal or oral swab.
“We believe this technology represents an important step forward in distributed screening capacity, reducing the risk of transmission and allowing organizations to take greater control over their health security, stay open and relieve pressure on central services”.
Given the easy use and transportation of the CoTest, businesses and institutions of all kinds may want to get their hands on it. Essentially the COVID-19 group tests are just one test, but for up to 40 people at a time. This is an empowering level of efficiency that can take the load off central testing centers and labs while providing a more immediate response.
“With support, it’s entirely possible that ‘CoTest’ could be in schools and businesses and being used as a key tool in how we manage the virus.” said Peter Crossley, product development lead at TTP. The cost efficiency of this technology becomes increasingly powerful as infection rates decrease and health security monitoring becomes key.”
TTP is seeking more partners to push their new COVID-19 group test solution, which could prove to be a crucial tool in the coming months and years. While the world waits for a vaccine, we will have to continue finding ways of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
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