June 8, 2020
How to Build an Oasis
Remember going to Disneyland? Hugs? Eating in restaurants? Gambling with things other than your health? We do. Now that we have to assume the world outside our front doors teeming with disease, we need to consider how best to proceed when we venture out. We think it could go something like this:
The process would begin with registration in a database that would coordinate individuals, venues, and testing. It can be done at home, and is anonymous. Individuals will be identified by a random number in the database, and facial recognition with a pin at venues. Will there be oversight you ask? There will be oversight, I answer. We’ll get to that later. Profiles will also store antibody test status, which means if you have them, you get in faster. The down side is, the technology is not where we need it to be yet, and neither is the data. This is something that we all need to be pushing our officials to pursue. We need these tests to be accurate, and we need to be supporting studies that explore how much antibodies protect us and for how long.
For now, we are going to optimistically assume the science will soon catch up with our needs. Labs will sign up so they can communicate results to businesses at your request. Getting tested at a participating lab will mean anonymous testing. Just like venues, labs will verify you being you with your pin and your face. Your other info stays private.
We touched on oversight earlier. The privacy people will be an independent body responsible for ensuring that no unauthorized information is used, or even being collected. Let’s face it, sometimes you want to go where not one body knows your name. They can still be glad you came.
Each venue will need an administrator for their checkpoint. This will be a selected employee who manages the database and employees from the venue’s end. Both customers and employees will be checked. So, going in we know that not only are our fellow patrons safe to be around, so are the employees assisting us.
The database will be a two-way street. Potential patrons will be able to access a venue’s profile to schedule a visit and screening. The public will be able to see what others thought of the screening. Is it fast? Thorough? Safe? These are things we will all want to know before we arrive. Including a ranking system for venue safety procedures does that. It also lets the venue manage how many people are coming in, because none of us want to be packed like sardines right now. If you’re bringing your kids, you’ll be able to indicate that when you schedule yourself.
Once registered, users will be able to make reservations for their outing, that can be dinner, a movie, or whatever else the heart desires. This pops us into the virtual queue. Now the venue knows to expect us and when. When we arrive, we are still practicing distancing, and wearing our PPE. Check in can be via phone for maximum safety.
This virtual queue is where we meet up with any of our party that checked in separately. The staff running the checkpoint confirm that we are who we say we are. This is where the facial recognition comes into play. At this point, the checkpoint officiant will also ensure everyone is properly outfitted with a mask, explain any venue specifics, and give testing instructions. Anyone who’s visibly sick, will be asked to remove themselves. So, when you know you are sick, stay home.
Now one of two things will happen. Those who have positive antibody tests on file will be have that information confirmed via the database, and if all is well, they will be issued their wristband and invited in. If someone’s results are unable to be verified for any reason, they will continue through the queue for viral testing.
Meanwhile, those of us who don’t have antibodies due to luck and our meticulous habits, will be pulled from the prescreening waiting area for our rapid viral test. Like antibody tests, these need to be accurate. A false positive will needlessly ruin someone’s night, but a false negative would be worse. Point-of-contact testing also needs to be affordable and fast. After our swabbing, we’ll return to the waiting area. By the way, seats here will be assigned, and cleaned between queues.
Once everybody has, fingers crossed, tested negative for coronavirus, wristbands are given, and entry is granted. Wristbands will be collected at the exit. Obviously, in and out privileges are a no-go. Leaving would necessitate another trip through the screening process.
So, here we are, bare-faced, but safe. Was it entirely convenient getting here? Nope. But this is where we can party like it’s 1999. Or very early in the current year. Because safe zones will become areas where people will not be expected to wear PPE and conform to social distancing, they will require an enforceable perimeter. Eventually, zones could be linked, expanding them, what we can do in them, and how long we can stay in them. A safe zone can be a restaurant or a city, as long as access remains controlled.