5 pandemic technological innovations that will change travel forever


UV-C has germicidal properties that fight COVID-19 and other nasties, both in the air and on surfaces. Depending on the location, new UV-C installations enter HVACs, escalator handrails, or airports and airplanes via robots equipped with lights that disinfect as they go.

If installed and used correctly, a UV-C system can kill all kinds of bacteria and germs. Even seasonal flu viruses can be killed before they spread. “COVID-19 could come and go, but what won’t go away are normal pathogens,” says Veloz.

QR codes in restaurants

At the start of the pandemic, when the transmission of COVID-19 was not yet fully understood, restaurants were quick to provide QR codes. The little black boxes of pixelated dots and dashes could be scanned with a smartphone to bring up a menu, let you order from it, and then let you pay your bill, all with virus spreading interactions. limited with servers.

While earlier fears that people could catch the virus through menus and other surfaces have been refuted, the codes have proven to be practical and will likely remain, especially with labor shortages as the pandemic ends.

Such convenience could mean a tradeoff with privacy, however, as small codes can potentially collect a large amount of information from users. Some QR programs just take an order for food, but others pull in data such as a customer’s meal history, age, and gender. The restaurant could use this information to send them coupons or event invitations, or sell them to third parties.

“This is an example of companies exploiting COVID-19 to expand tracking,” says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU. “Moving everything to mobile opens up new ways for people to track and control. “

Travelers should be aware that QR codes can be hacked; you could scan one, place an order for dinner, and end up compromising your credit card instead. Stanley recommends treating QR codes the same as links in unknown emails. Use your phone to search the internet for the restaurant menu or install a protection application like Kaspersky QR Scanner, which will notify users if the code is not secure.

Contact tracing tools

Public health groups have used contact tracing methods to identify and track down people potentially at risk for infectious diseases such as Zika and HIV, and to offer counseling, testing and treatment. These traditional tools were generally based on phone calls to ask individuals with whom they were in contact and to further research the exhibit. The pandemic has prompted officials to step up those efforts and implement new, higher-tech ones to track the viral spread and provide information.

For example, Apple and Google have added contact tracing functions to the new smartphone software, allowing users to sign up and receive alerts if they come into close contact with an infected person.

“There has been a strong recognition of the value and important role of contact tracing for the prevention and control of infectious diseases,” says Elizabeth Ruebush, senior analyst for infectious diseases and immunization policies at the Association. of State and Territorial Health Officials. “But we’ve never seen it implemented on the scale of COVID-19. “

Other technologies, such as automated texts, viral heat maps and even video surveillance with facial recognition, could help track other infectious diseases or prepare us for the next pandemic.

However, even with sophisticated new applications, phone calls and personal awareness will always be at the center of public health. “These tools aim to improve, but not replace, traditional contact tracing,” Ruebush said.

COVID-19 has accelerated our adoption of technology. The downside is that it can be even more difficult to turn off smartphones while on vacation. Here again, the urge to travel is now stronger than ever and getting lost in the moment has still not been mastered by a digital code.

Jackie Snow is a Washington, DC-based travel and tech writer. Follow her on Instagram.


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