Abroad Entry aims to digitize the international travel entry process. We aim to ensure the hygiene and health of international travelers and those who interact with them through a digital, contactless customs entry form. We hope to enable a more digitized, encrypted platform to make the traveler entry experience more efficient and convenient and ensures data privacy.

Current Problems

Paper forms require contact with crew, travelers, and customs, risking illness among all parties

  • Flight crew must physically pass out and interact with every passenger for an additional time.
  • International travelers share pens and sometimes, help each other translate customs forms.
  • Customs officials must interact with paper copies of entry forms of potentially sick travelers.

Customs struggles to enforce travel bans and open travel to all healthy passengers

  • Customs officials are unable to verify the previous travel and medical history of travelers, some of who are taking route shortcuts to surpass quarantine requirements. For example, Reuters reported that some Russian travelers were bypassing travel bans by returning back through Belarus: https://skift.com/2020/06/10/russians-jump-border-into-belarus-to-bypass-coronavirus-travel-ban/.
  • Instead of implementing nation-based travel bans, governments can still open countries to tourists from all nations if individual travelers can confirm their previous travel and medical histories.

Customs officials have challenges communicating the COVID-19 safety procedures to international travelers who do not speak their native language

  • Customs needs a digital way to produce and articulate constantly changing safety guidelines to non-native speaking travelers.

Lack of visibility of density of customs queue, risking safety of passengers at customs clearance terminals

  • There is no visibility of the current customs clearance line, leading travelers to risk waiting in line with massive crowds. For example, when the U.S. imposed their travel ban on Europe, pictures of various international airports showed massive, long lines with little to no social distancing.

Our current technical solution

A digital website of contactless international travel form that asks for standard travel questions and medical information. It includes localization to translate the form from a desired language and encrypts the medical data that the users provide.

What Tech Did We Use to Build It

Our technical solution front end used React, Bulma, and HTML/CSS. Our backend included Javascript and local API calls. We also attempted to encrypted the entered medical using CryptoJS.

We also attempted to connect a database with MongoDB.

Our Design Approach

We used UX/UI inspiration sites such as Behance and Dribbble, and asked mentors on travel websites and apps that are visually appealing to them, to find inspiration for designs in the process. We then picked our top designs and created mood boards on Milanote and a style guide to track our inspirations and remain consistent.

We coded the front-end of our current technical solution with HTML/CSS and the Bulma framework. We created a pitch deck and Adobe XD designs for ideas for future implementations.

What are We Proud of

Jennifer learned how to use Bulma and found it more efficient and easy to use than Bootstrap. Edward learned about encryption and that the encryption works!

Implementation Challenges

We asked our mentors to provide feedback on the following:

  • 1) How do we ensure traveler privacy through the app?
  • 2) How will a traveler download the app while they are on the plane?
  • 3) If the app is included as part of the plane entertainment system, how do plane entertainment systems work?
  • 4) How do we make the app user friendly with those with disabilities, who already have challenges using the entertainment system, their phone?

Our Next Steps

User Research We would like to conduct more user research to validate our frontend using user research platforms such as Respondent.io. We want to explore different ways to access the website for users who do not have a mobile phone (ex. kiosk, plane entertainment system) and for users who do not pay as much attention on the flight (ex. show the form code in the flight details at the entertainment system, show the code at the gate upon boarding).

Partnerships Once we validate our design, in order to implement the project, we would need to identify airlines partners and customs border patrol agencies that would either the implement the existing project or have us help them build their own version. We would benefit from joining an accelerator and professional organizations related to travel technology, government technology, and airlines professionals.

Additional Features We would like to acquire credits for Google Translate or another translation API to enable translation for all languages. As part of our product, we could also partner with a translation API company to create an API specifically tailored to customs clearance and entry translation solutions.

We were unable to find any customs border patrol agencies that provided density data of their queues and did not have time to do research on how they coordinate with airlines to off board passengers for safe social distancing. In the future, we would like to conduct more research on the off-boarding process and partner with people counting platforms such as Density.io and Trafsys to install people counters in doors and hallways of gates and terminals to ensure safe off-boarding and queueing.

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