Expert Opinions Enabling travel without fear By TTG Asia / Posted on 6 April, 2021 16:40 Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group's president Asia Pacific, Sumir Bhatia, shares his thoughts on how data will pave the way for smart travel in the post-pandemic world. In a recent interview, the director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shared that personal and leisure travel will likely return during the second half of this year. And I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I admit to a little cry of joy at the prospect of being able to cross borders once more. But before rushing to book your next flight, there’s another reality that travellers of 2021 and beyond must face before embarking on new adventures – one of which I’m sure we’re all acutely aware of. According to Sabre’s APAC Travel Sentiment Survey, health and safety is now would-be travellers’ top concern – and rightly so. It goes without saying that travel and tourism businesses will need to implement the right measures to reassure, protect, and gain the trust of customers as we slowly return to the skies and the seas. And data will be critical in helping us achieve this. Supporting vaccination efforts First and foremost, vaccination against Covid-19 is indisputably one of the main strategies for travel to resume. And in the high-tech and data-driven era we live in now, companies like Lenovo are constantly innovating and designing new tools and solutions to assist medical professionals. From developing precision medicine for customised treatments, to accelerating human gene analysis, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High Performance Computing (HPC) provide much-needed support to researchers all over the world. Specifically to Lenovo, our Genomics Optimization and Scalability Tool (GOAST) has already effectively sped up the processing of a human genome from what was previously 150 hours to just 48 minutes. This greatly improves efficiency as scientists race to develop vaccines to combat Covid-19. Making processes safe and secure But even with vaccines in place, there’s not yet enough data to suggest how long they might be effective and how much they can cut transmission rates – not to mention the potential for outliers. So, particularly in the early days, to mitigate risks, minimising interhuman contact in travel must continue to be a top priority to ensure safety. For countries to reopen and welcome visitors, new technology can be adopted at various checkpoints for smooth, seamless, and safe travel. For instance, AddFor, Lenovo’s AI solutions partner provides smart solutions like: FEVERCheck, which measures body temperature without contact; FACEFind, which uses biometrics for identification and access into restricted areas; and SOCIALdistancing, a real-time tool that automatically calculates the distance between individuals and reports violations of regulations. Closer to home, facial and iris scans are quickly replacing fingerprints as the main mode of identification, doing away with traditionally high-touch machines. Keen to secure the nation’s position as an aviation hub, the Singapore government continues to invest in more on-arrival testing and biosafety systems, and the adoption of these contactless scans show no sign of slowing down. Enabling seamless travel across borders Smart travel in the post-pandemic world will entail seamless data sharing across borders. As frequent travellers seek entry into various countries, vaccinated and regularly tested individuals may soon be exempted from serving quarantine. With data sharing agreements in place, tech can enable easy identification of these eligible travellers – potentially improving the experience for both individuals and businesses like airlines and accommodation. Elevating the future travel experience Of course, everything we’ve discussed so far looks at that which is imminent – but if applied innovatively, data can allow us to safeguard and enhance the travel experience of tomorrow. By harnessing and effectively using technology, travel businesses will have opportunities to deliver next-level services to stand out from the competition. For example, whether it is offering travel packages tailored to specific interests, the use of helpful voice assistants, or smart features that automatically set up guest rooms according to their preferences, travellers in the future stand to benefit from even more personalisation. As travel looks to not just recover, but to grow and thrive post-pandemic, it is clear that data and tech will continue to play integral roles in strengthening the industry. Be it personalisation to elevate experiences, or smart solutions that make checkpoints safer, the potential that technology offers is limitless. With the adoption of new and ever-improving innovations, the world may indeed come out of this crisis better prepared to weather future storms – potentially never needing to close our borders again.