We need the equivalent of a trusted traveler program for health. I’m asking for help so we can start to build this right now. Otherwise, travel is dead.
COVID-19 is spreading fear across the global — making people sick or worse, and creating unbelievable economic destruction and panic.
The impact of COVID-19 on travel can’t be overstated. If you don’t believe me, watch Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott, explain the impact.
If you think travel isn’t important right now, I understand. There’s certainly lots to worry about. But travel matters. It connects us all. It’s also an industry worth more than $8 trillion annually, and in many less wealthy countries, the primary source of GDP. As a tech person in the travel industry, I think we can — and must — do something to help us get back on track.
The antidote to fear is courage and trust. Travel can’t begin again until we can build trust across borders. Governments need to believe that the people they allow into their countries are healthy. Otherwise travel is domestic at best, and largely dead.
So how do we do it?
Luckily, we’ve got a blueprint already. Years ago a frequent traveler program was designed to let people who travel often move quickly through airports and borders. They did it by enabling trust through data.
Let’s borrow from here.
We’ll need a different set of data for “health trust”: recent and current temperature, immunization records, relevant medical history (e.g, historic COVID-19 test results showing positive than negative). I need people much smarter than me to figure this out!
We’ll need a card and someone to issue it: I can almost feel the government bureaucracy slowing my fingers as I type this. Let’s do it agnostic of government but with their input and guidance. We need an independent organization to lead this. Let’s be that organization.
We’ll need to reduce friction: Let’s make it an app and make it easier for people to onboard. Let’s focus on the simplest way to get the health data from people we can, as close to their travel window as possible.
We’ll need global adoption: We need agreed upon data standards and likely need the ability for different countries to define the different health concerns they’re worried about.
We’ll need people to help:
Babylon Health can help. They’re the most sophisticated health platform in the world. Help us build the “card” and lead on AI.
Facebook and Google can help. Both can donate back some of the travel industry’s ad dollars to fund development and lobby governments for adoption and support. They can donate their reach to drive awareness and adoption.
Governments must help. Join us and help us define what we need so you’re comfortable enough to let people travel again.