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Recovery from Covid-19 whilst managing ‘social distancing’

The cultural sector, including festivals, sports events and day trips has been decimated by the Coronavirus pandemic. As people wrestle with the resulting social depression, to successfully rebuild it we need creative and engaging ways of managing best-practice in respect of social distancing and ensuring public safety.

The pandemic has caused an acute contraction to the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, which prior to Covid-19 attracted £42bn in ticket sales, £10bn in public transport fares and over £142Bn to the UK economy. The government acknowledges that managing the reintroduction of cultural events and services is critical to our economic and social welfare.

Prior to the outbreak, in October 2019, ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ (YST) launched its Travel Assistant platform – “guiding people to venues and events the smart way”. Its software, developed in collaboration with Transport for West Midlands and part-funded by Innovate UK, has begun to garner regional and national approval by venues and events including Edgbaston Stadium, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Coventry City of Culture and The FA, for Wembley. It allows them to design bespoke routing for different audience types, shared though web, mobile and satnav systems, capturing who’s coming, where from and how they plan to travel. This information is critical to venue and event management teams, especially in the face of urban redevelopment and disruption that increasingly adversely affects accessibility and visitor experience.

Inspired by its market traction, YST had embarked on an ambitious but well-informed partner programme to address market penetration across the UK and beyond – focusing on safe, secure, sustainable travel, social interaction and wellbeing through bespoke venue integrations and personalisation of visitor experiences. We are now geared to recalibrating and applying our technology to managing the recovery of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors from Covid-19. Phase 2 of the innovative Travel Assistant programme involves real-time rich-media navigation, AI travel advice and tourism content being served to audiences en-route as well as in-situ, based on their location.

As it will be some time before the markets recover, in the immediate term we are focusing our efforts on bespoke routing for the general public and essential workers to essential services, including hospitals, recovery units and food outlets.

No-one can be sure what the new normal will be. Our longer-term aim is to accelerate recovery from Covid-19 by managing social distancing and inspiring audiences with robust, engaging, safety critical real-time guidance based on their proximity to venues, events, points of interest and critically, each other.