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Opinion - Biometrics to geofencing: How to curb a 21st century pandemic

2020-10-06  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Biometrics to geofencing: How to curb a 21st century pandemic

Following a six-month-long state of emergency, Namibia lifted the ban on international travel from 18 September 2020.

This is amidst strict Covid-19 protocols, including a seven-day quarantine period for arrivals. Although this is extremely frustrating for travellers, health concerns are at the forefront, and these measures are aimed at avoiding the spread of the virus by international travellers.   

While the onset and sheer magnitude of the Covid-19 outbreak caught the world off-guard, the imminent threat of a global health crisis has been on the radar for years.

Researchers have been predicting a worldwide pandemic, and warning countries to prepare for the high probability of a devastating viral outbreak.

In fact, speaking at an event hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018, software giant Bill Gates warned that the next deadly global pandemic is on its way, and that the world lacks “pandemic preparedness”.

His advice was that "the world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war".

Some organisations did heed the call by epidemiologists to develop systems to be deployed in the event of such crises.

With the arrival of Covid-19, these systems have proven to be extremely valuable, especially as the rapid spread of the virus means that time is of the essence.

Global leader in intelligent civil aviation security solutions, Securiport, focuses much of its attention on addressing current and potential security challenges, particularly those related to air travel.  

Securiport’s Chief Software Architect was recently featured on CNBC Africa to discuss new ways in which governments can mitigate the current and future pandemics by leveraging innovative types of technology. 

In the interview Carpenter goes on to explain the importance being able to integrate technologies with their current immigration systems to provide a platform that allows airport immigration to quickly and efficiently scan individuals.

Securiport’s Epidemic Control System can assist governments and national civil aviation authorities with passenger health screening, identifying high risk travellers and recording health-related information. Capabilities of the ECS technology include”

  • Early Warning & Monitoring to help identify passengers who may have been exposed to Covid-19 based on factors such as travel history.
  • A Pre-Register & Alerting System that travellers can use via their mobile devices to enter personal information for immigration and customs clearance, as well as complete health status questionnaires. It also uses geofencing and spread analysis for detecting and alerting about high concentration areas.
  • Health Screening & Testing services that can be integrated with passenger processing systems for decision support and case management. This includes the integration of Covid-19 rapid testing devices and thermal monitoring equipment.
  • Citizen Health Card, a mobile “card” that travellers can use to display their health status at border control points. It also shows the location of testing centres, clinics, hospitals and other facilities that travellers can access if they experience health issues.
  • Traceability & Case Management tools that consolidate information to facilitate screening and decision-making of high-risk travellers. It also has the capacity to manage information and help government officials to conduct follow-up interviews and contact tracing.

It is widely accepted that the spread of Covid-19 is linked to international travel, and recent research confirms this. Airport companies and aviation authorities are urged to put advanced health and safety measures in place to reduce the risk of viral contagion within airport spaces and beyond.  


Patience Ukama

2020-10-06  Staff Reporter

Tags: Khomas
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