COVID-19 has changed things for the better or worse. Now there is a growing belief in many countries that this is not a pandemic but an endemic which we have to learn to live with. One lasting change of COVID 19 will be the way we travel. Post Covid, travel requirements will never go back to the norms earlier, Or at least in the foreseeable future. On top of Visa and other documentary requirements, it will be expected for travelers to show proofs of Negative COVID tests, even if they are vaccinated.
For the aviation industry, this adds a layer of checks and subsequently, costs. As with checking other documentary pieces of evidence the onus on checking the Test Reports will lie with the Airlines.
Challenges with Checking COVID Test Reports
Difference in Guidelines
Current test requirements differ from country to country and thus make it difficult and time-consuming for airlines to ensure compliance. For example, while some countries allow tests conducted up to 72 hours before arrival, others such as Bahrain and Belgium allow Negative test results up to 96 hours before flying.
Similarly, on one hand, the UK and the US require a simple “PCR and RT-PCR” Test Method respectively, on the other hand, Japan has a very specific requirement on Test Collection Method that it has to be “Saliva or Naspyronycal Swap (NO abbreviations)”.
Please see a list of requirements below compiled for few countries.
Lack of Verification from the Source
Global travel digitization has ensured the documentary evidence such as VISA etc can be verified by Airlines. Such an infrastructure is not available OR may be impossible to build for verifying COVID Test reports as there is no centralized authority performing these tests. Some airlines like Etihad in Abu Dhabi have done tie-ups with Pathology Lab chains to help verify the results at source but having a substantial chunk of test reports verified from a source will be difficult to achieve.
Non-Standardized Inputs and Checking Valid Documentary Proofs
Given the lack of a centralized authority issuing these negative reports, it is safe to assume that airlines will have to contend with different formats of test reports and in multiple languages. Also, awareness of customers will be an issue to contend with. Some customers just may not know of the detailed requirements and might not upload the proper documentary evidence required.
Problems leading to Increased Cost of Processing
With the complexities we highlighted earlier, it’s understood that Airlines will have to factor in for increased operational expenses for manual teams that will verify these COVID test reports. These manual teams will have to sift through the test reports to ensure the reports follow the destination country requirements but also ensure they are genuine and not forged or tampered with.
IN-D.AI Solution for Processing COVID Test Reports
IN-D’s proprietary “Document to Data to Decision” platform combined with any RPA (MS Power Automate, BluePrism, or Uipath) or Custom Software to automate the end-to-end processing of validating these COVID Test reports. While IN-D will perform the necessary reading and sanctity checks, the RPA solution can be customized to do rule checks depending on the arrival destination.
Some of the key features of IN-D’s Solutions are
- Validation of the Uploaded Test Reports – The solution has been trained to screen and reject invalid Test reports. For example, Mobile Screen Shot of the Test Result SMS from the Lab
- Performing Sanctity Checks – IN-D’s fraud detection model has been used here to highlight the lack of Stamps, Logos, Signatures, and even QR Codes to the operations user. Also, the model performs checks on any kind of tampering done on these reports.
- Data extraction with High Level of Accuracies: IN-D’s 3 Step Data extraction models have been trained to extract around 13 data points from these reports. These data extracted can be classified under the following sub-heading.
- Demographics Data – Such as Name, DOB, Passport Number, Nationality
- Test Data- Test Type, Test Method, Test Result, Test Date and Time
- Lab Details – Lab Name and Lab Address
The solution has been designed to aid manual checking of these COVID Test reports and help speed up the processing by up to 70%. Enhancements are being planned to include non-English language test reports as well as Name checks on labs to further ensure that the airline customer is providing genuine Test Proof.
A 4-min recorded demo of the software here
Similar challenges will also be faced by the hospitality and MICE industry, where they would probably need the same test to be verified to ensure the guests in the hotel are protected from the virus.