How can document readers help us fight COVID-19?

Last updated: 20 May 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels offering quarantine have been indispensable tools for governments across the world. With many countries opting to use track and trace systems to curb the spread of the virus, the identity information of international travellers captured by these hotels has been crucial in ensuring the success of these systems. And, as more people start travelling internationally with the lifting of restrictions, these hotels are likely to still be in action in the coming months.

However, this has not been a perfect system. With hotels having to house large numbers of travellers, they have to capture huge quantities of information to ensure track and trace systems are viable. With this comes a lengthy waiting process for guests at check-in and the chance of human error by staff recording guest details.

What’s more, hotels, notorious for outsourcing maintenance work to third parties, see multiple external workers enter and exit their premises every day, thus presenting potential severe transmission and security risks.

So, what can hotels offering quarantine do to manage these problems?

The problems facing hotels offing quarantine

The first problem relates to the check-in process of guests. Due to the data required to power track and trace systems, hotel staff are obligated to take down the essential identity information of every guest that books a room, whether or not it is for COVID-related reasons. The result is a protracted, manual process which leaves room for human error by the hotel staff who record guest information. In the context of track and trace, such errors have the potential to completely undermine the efficacy of such systems.

The other key challenge facing hotels has to do with external workers. In the world of hotels, external contractors and suppliers are crucial allies who carry out many essential services needed in the running of a hotel, such as maintenance and the delivery of goods.

However, with such a dependence on third-party workers, a hotel can see tens, if not hundreds, of external workers enter and exit its premises in a single day. In the context of COVID, the coming and going of workers poses a serious transmission risk. Therefore, staff, as with guests, may be required to log the identification details of each individual worker who enters a hotel in order to supply data to the national track and trace system, this again being a time-consuming and potentially error-strewn process.

What’s more, this constant flow of workers in and out of a hotel poses a security risk. If a hotel doesn’t take the necessary steps to identify workers, the chance of fraudsters and criminals gaining access to a hotel’s facilities increases dramatically.

What can hotels do?

Faced with these pressing issues, hotels need to equip themselves with tools which can enable the quick and easy identification of any guest or worker who walks through the front door.

This is where document readers come in.

Similar to those seen in airports at check-in desks, document readers have been shown to be an excellent tool for decreasing wait times for passengers while also offering incredibly accurate document verification.

In the case of guests checking in, hotel staff can quickly take the details of guests by scanning their key identification documents. Documents readers can also be programmed to identify a variety of different documents, whether a guest’s passport or their COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

With these document readers directly transferring guest data onto the hotel’s property management system (PMS), it can then be easily accessed and transferred to those who need it for track and trace systems. Additionally, these devices can be touchless, significantly reducing the risk of transmission during check-in

When it comes to keeping track of third-party workers, document readers could be used to capture worker identification details without adding extra work to staff already helping guests with check-in. They would be able to guarantee that all workers entering the premises have valid employment documents.

While it is certainly encouraging that restrictions are beginning to be removed in many countries across the world, the need for quarantine services in hotels is likely to be a fixture for months to come. With the help of document readers, hotels can best position themselves to effectively manage these services while simultaneously assisting a nation’s collective fight against COVID-19.

Interested and looking to learn more? Read our recent document readers whitepaper and follow @ThalesDigiSec for more Thales content.

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