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App maker works to help open economy safely without taking personal data

Salus doesn’t take personal information, but helps venues, offices, airlines, and cruise ships monitor the health of guests.

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TechRepublic’s Karen Roby spoke with Doug Cohen, chief revenue officer of OZ Digital Consulting, about OZ’s new COVID-19 app, Salus. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Karen Roby: We talk a lot about all the technology now that is available and in the works for tracking information when it comes to COVID. What we’re seeing now, especially with new information coming out from the CDC when it comes to traveling, and all of this, is that people are going to need their information right there at their fingertips with past test results or whatever it may be, and their vaccine information. Talk a little bit about your platform and the app specifically, and then we’ll get into how it’s going to help folks.

Doug Cohen: [Data privacy is] one of the things when we developed the Salus platform that we’re really most proud of. We’re focused on protecting personally identifiable information, personal health information, which is why as we built the platform, we decided that we’re not going to take that information in. So, a user doesn’t have to put in the typical information they would be potentially concerned with from a data privacy standpoint.

Karen Roby: Talk about the information that will be used and then how it can help users.

Doug Cohen: Let’s say someone wants to go back to a conference or a concert or get on a plane or go on a cruise ship. The platform is already on the App Store, so it’s available for download. Once they download the app, instead of collecting some of the personal identifiable information, we use a selfie to be able to identify somebody coming into a venue.

In terms of helping people, first of all, we’re not collecting their data, their information, so that’s a pretty significant key attribute that we would want to share with folks. But also, it’s using the technology with just the selfie to be able to identify who they are, going back into a venue. It’s a suite of apps. So, someone going to a conference can download the Salus Access app, or a concert, or a sports event. Employees trying to get back safely to the workplace would be able to download Salus Employee and be able to have that information using a QR code to allow them to gain access into that venue.

Karen Roby: Talk a little bit about what will be accepted. How will people be allowed in, and what will they have to show for proof? But is there a partnership that you guys have established that you know that this information, if I pull it up on my phone on that app, will be accepted? Or what does that look like?

SEE: Big data’s role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Doug Cohen: Really, what we’re doing and what we’re seeing, especially toward the end of last year moving into 2021, is an interest in finding a way to return to everything in different segments. So, when we built the platform, it was premised off of the test results or vaccine status.

Initially, when we started talking about the use of technology, there was some talk about identifying folks with high temperatures. Then the science basically said, “That’s not really the way you need to go. You need to get objective test data.”

So when you’re going into a venue, the only thing that people will really need to have is just the test results, which will be stored in the app, and again, regardless of the type of test. It could be a PCR test, which is the standard that most people have started getting, but it was a longer period of time to get those results, and they were more expensive. Then it’s moved to rapid-antigen tests and antibody tests, and, of course, vaccine status is going to be critical. All of that information is able to be shown to any venue as you’re walking in, and being able to share that information so you can access safely.

I do understand that the CDC [US Centers for Disease Control], it was just this week that things changed as far as international travel. Is that correct?

That’s the latest thing that I saw with some of the reports that were out there. There’s going to be a requirement that you have those test results when you’re coming into the country. As we’re having these conversations with the travel industry and with sports and entertainment, every requirement is going to be a little bit different. But, ultimately, what they’re looking for is the test results that show that someone has very recently had a negative COVID test result, and they’re safe to enter. I think that’s where apps like Salus come into play is giving people that ability, in a user-friendly manner, to download it and be able to easily show those tests or those vaccine results as they’re entering the venue.

Karen Roby: There are a lot of companies, obviously, that are putting different platforms together to help in the race to develop our new normal and what it will look like. Are people already using Salus?

Doug Cohen: Yes. As a matter of fact, it’s been on the market for a number of months. We’ve had clients that are using the platform, both in the sports and entertainment industries. It’s interesting, as we start to see the more adoption of this, you think about a sports team. It’s not just the players: It’s the team personnel, it’s the referees on the field, it’s the personnel who are doing the cameras. You want to make sure that all those folks are safe as well, too. So, I think what we’ve seen is more interest in, not just the folks that are going to be at the actual event, whether it’s fans, but the actual players and the other people that are behind the scenes as well, too.

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Coronavirus tracking or contact tracing application to reduce coronavirus spreading after quarantine detecting infected people.Coronavirus tracking or contact tracing application to reduce coronavirus spreading after quarantine detecting infected people.

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