How biometrics, digital health credentials could save sports, large event venues

biometric facial recognition

During a webinar in May, biometrics experts discussed how mobile payments and biometrics can help sports arenas and other large events resume operation. Even before COVID-19, industries started replacing cash and physical transactions with biometrics. Whether it is facial recognition for age verification during alcohol sales or biometric payments, both industries and consumers are showing preference for contactless technology for its speed, security and fraud protection.

‘Unhackable’ digital health passports with end-to-end encryption

Manchester startup VST Enterprises is pitching its V-Health Passport, which is secured with biometrics, , as a way to maintain public safety at sports and entertainment venues and hold large events without social distancing, reports PA News Agency.

The company launched a new health credential under the name V-COVID in April.

Before an event, sports fans would be tested for COVID-19 and if the result is negative, the digital passport is scanned and approved from 100 meters away. The passport uses biometric facial recognition to verify user identity and compares it to the passport uploaded beforehand. The entire system costs £15 per person (roughly US$20), which includes testing, passport administration and venue bio-security checks.

The COVID-19 Rapid Test involves drawing blood from the finger and waiting 10 minutes for the final result on infection or antibodies, and has an alleged accuracy of 97.5 percent.

VST Enterprises sent trial proposals to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as socially-distanced events are expected to return starting October 1. Interest in trials has been shown by Premier League clubs, as have other competition organizers in Europe and the U.S., according to the report.

In its efforts, VST Enterprises is collaborating with Latus Health, Redstrike and HALO Solutions to arrange pilots for 500 to 5,000 attendees.

“We’re creating a bio-secure environment by ensuring all fans – plus stadium staff, security officials, players and backroom staff – inside the stadium are tested and have proved their test result is negative on arrival,” its chief executive and inventor Louis-James Davis told the PA news agency.

“Let’s say we do five of these pilot events which are a success. There is no reason why this then can’t be scaled up. It’s simply a case of increasing the staff to administer the tests. It will then over time gradually get back to normal because everyone can trust that it’s a bio-secure venue.”

Davis claims the passport is unhackable because it includes end-to-end encryption. People who test positive will get a red light and negative tests receive a green light, while amber is reserved to show the date scheduled for the next test. He further states that a number of clubs and governing bodies have expressed interest in the system, but they are waiting for Government and DCMS approval.

Only based on social distancing measures, a first pilot involving people was conducted at the cricket game between Surrey and Middlesex, and the first indoor event will be Friday’s World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield the Glorious Goodwood Festival on Saturday.

In an interview with Reuters, Avi Lasarow, Chief Executive for the EMEA region at genetic testing and digital health company Prenetics (CircleDNA), responsible for the UK Premier League’s coronavirus testing, said digital health passports could save the industry by securely getting people back to venues.

“I think it’s going to be a big game-changer in terms of linking COVID-19 testing results to a digital access mechanism based on biometrics and other such factors,” Lasarow said.

Lasarow believes that QR scanning when entering a venue could confirm people have been tested and the result is negative. Spectators would have to provide their personal information, email, and a photograph to be issued a unique code on their phone.

Prenetics and Premier League have signed a £4 million ($4.8 million) testing contract, with some 9,000 tests conducted by June 17, says ID & Secure Document News. Another partnership is on the way, this time with The England and Wales Cricket Board.

To enroll in the digital Health Passport, participants have to first provide their email and a photo before receiving their unique personal code, then the information is kept by Prenetics in a cloud with SSL encryption, and ultimately fans receive a unique digital Health Passport on their mobile.

“Today, it’s being used for access control where it can link to accreditation and biometrics. Ultimately, the future is how you can scale that up to large numbers of fans to get them into stadiums,” concluded Lasarow.

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