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Technology Makes Travel Easier in Singapore During the Pandemic

As Singapore moves towards living with covid and more Vaccinated Travel Lanes opening up, people can travel to several countries without the need to quarantine upon arrival and upon return. However, the potential hassle of travelling in the time of COVID-19 and safety concerns may be holding some back from dusting off their passports. Technologies are making travel more seamless and safer.

An app that enables cashless payments can also store a vaccination certificate. This feature is all the more important since a lot of travel now depends on whether one is vaccinated and clear of COVID-19 before travel. Proof of vaccination and pre-departure results need to be tamper-proof, convenient to present, and easily authenticated.

A digital open standard for test results and vaccination certification ensures tamper-proof e-documents can be shared with travel authorities. The open eco-system means private companies and public entities can easily opt-in. The providers give issuance services to clinics and labs. So far, there are 14 providers that are connected to over 700 institutions that have a presence in around 30 places.

The pandemic has made people think twice about what they touch, so the boarding process has been revamped to minimise contact with surfaces and others. For starters, online and mobile check-in is increasingly replacing the need to queue at counters. The Singapore Airlines (SIA) app can even generate a digital boarding pass that enables passengers to proceed through the airport.

Passengers can also use the app to declare the number of baggage and auto print their baggage tags at the airport. Even if there is a need to use check-in kiosks, there are now 160 newly installed ones with proximity touch screens that can track finger movements using infrared sensors. Users can thus use the kiosks through gestures instead of touching the screen. As for immigration clearance, facial and iris recognition is replacing fingerprint scanning as the primary biometric identifier at Changi Airport.

A big part of the pleasure of flying is no doubt the in-flight entertainment system and the magazines stuffed into the seat pocket, where people can pick up information about the place they are headed to. The aviation industry has been moving towards incorporating passengers’ mobile devices into the inflight entertainment system in recent years, but the pandemic has accelerated this trend.

Passengers on selected SIA aircraft can operate the inflight entertainment system using the SIA app on their mobile devices, eliminating the need to touch the aircrafts’ touchscreens. Although inflight magazines have been removed, passengers have access to an even wider selection of reading material now on the SIA app.

If the choice of destination is heavily dependent on the travel regulations in place for that country, people can check out this map by the International Air Transport Association. They can click on any country and the latest list of travel regulations or restrictions will be displayed. The map is also colour-coded in terms of the restrictiveness of the rules in place for each country.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, countries from all over are looking for further improvements on COVID-19 testing procedures. In Singapore, clinics authorised to conduct pre-departure COVID-19 tests (PDTs) for outbound travellers will now have to issue digital test result certificates, instead of the current physical certificates.

The digital test results will look to improve Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) existing online portal testing programme where passengers can choose from a list of recognised testing facilities and book appointments for pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests. This is part of a digital health verification process based on the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Travel Pass framework.

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