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COVID-19: Top 7 tech trends in the wake of the pandemic

Even the darkest clouds have silver linings. In many walks of life, COVID-19 fast tracked years of digital transformation in a few days. For visitor attractions, entire workforces became remote, virtual tours started with a simple mobile device and the power of social strengthened more than ever. On a wider scale, emerging technology has advanced years with 3D printers busy making masks for health workers while drones monitor public movements and doctors consult patients via telehealth. 

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There’s likely more to come in the form of immunity passport management, mass citizen surveillance and automated contact tracing as governments move to control public health across populations through data, such as apps like HaMagen ‘The Shield’ launched in IsraelTraceTogether by the Ministry of Health in Singapore or Silicon Valley’s answer in Google’s community mobility insights. Best yet, the important but easily deprioritized areas of business continuity and disaster recovery are now top of mind for budgeting and the entire world has become data obsessed – overnight.

Now we’ve all got robust VPNs and briefed the team on the risks of Zoom bombs, it’s time to think about the future. Digital technology has come into its own – long undervalued investments now proving pivotal in coping with lockdown, inevitably holding more value still for the eventual reopening of public spaces. Here, we look at the top tech trends emerging in the wake of the crisis as venues scramble to revisit strategic priorities for a very different future.

1. Scenario simulation

Whilst a back of the napkin calculation is sufficient to inform guesstimates for rapid fire decisions to simply stop the bleeding, with wide ranging uncertainties at play a more complex approach is needed to align operation and spend as we think forward to reopening and managing long term. In order to imagine myriad possibilities from factors such as reopening schedules, line of business limitations, rolling shutdowns, capacity limitations, program rescheduling, demand curves, recession impacts and many more – scenario simulation is an essential planning tool for data informed decisions which predict the unpredictable. Ready to action? Talk to the team at Dexibit.

2. Capacity management

For many venues reopening in Asia, up to 50% capacity reductions have been used to enable physical distancing and reduce close contact – both within an entire venue as well as within interior spaces. Automated footfall counters plus capacity management data analytics enable real time management along with compliance reporting if required by government mandate.

3. Timed passes

To simultaneously manage capacity, queues and tracing, timed passes provide a trifecta solution to enable physical distancing and other controls throughout the visitor experience and in a way which gives the public certainty to help prepare for their visit. Timed passes in particular might be an upgrade for attractions with unscheduled tickets, or even a new operating approach for those with previously free entry.

4. Virtual queues 

Virtual queues are already proving popular in a COVID-19 world at supermarkets and other essential services. For queues which form at the attraction entrance where visitors can otherwise wait in their cars or wide spaces, but also interior queues such as for spaces, rides and cafes – virtual queues avoid having visitors stand shoulder to shoulder. This will be especially important to manage longer queues where capacity is limited and the need for physical distancing snakes impractically long queues into operational areas blocking visitor paths and causing safety issues. Virtual queues can be implemented simply using simple SMS systems without requiring the complexity of an app, with the added benefit of estimating and reporting on hard to measure queue wait times.

5. Trace ticketing

Many governments are relying upon trace and track capabilities as an important tool in controlling spread. This relies on an ability to find close contacts of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 in order for those contacts to then undertake self isolation. However, it creates a new responsibility for public spaces to enable contact tracing in the case of an ill visitor and especially so in the case of an ill member of front of house staff. As already experienced by several attractions hosting visitors from cruise ships at the beginning of the virus spread, the ability to contact visitors from a particular day and time is a powerful weapon to aid government effort and reduces the need for public announcements. Though shifting the privacy paradigm during the pandemic, ticketing capturing visitor identity and contact details is one way attractions can help stop the spread.

6. Contactless payment

Given expert advice that coronavirus is capable of latching onto cash in the same way it does surfaces, many governments are already encouraging cashless digital wallets and contactless payment across the board for retail operations, avoiding the petri dish of coins, bank notes and credit card terminals.

7. Touchless digital

Digital interactives, in gallery touch screens and visitor kiosks provide a difficult hurdle for reopening visitor attractions with visitors now wary about the dangers of touch, even with cleaning and hand sanitizer in place. Instead, transitioning digital experiences where possible to interact as a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solution or better yet, a voice activated experience, removes the need for the public to touch the same interactive – reducing hygiene requirements while keeping visitors happy. This challenge also extends to the touch heavy experience of children’s and science museums, which may require digitization to reduce surface contact.

Angie Judge

Angie is the Chief Executive of Dexibit with a 15 year career history in information technology and is passionate about big data analytics in visitor attractions. 

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