WaitSafe in the Pandemic: How to Fluently Reconcile Social Distancing with Personal Mobility MIND(s that filled) THE GAP(s) [IX]
The easing of the lockdown ignited with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic is still subject to strict conditions, as communities need to accommodate sanitary safety concerns with solutions for the freedom of movement for individuals, as the latter is a crucial feature for the “health” of the socio-economic fabric.
For instance, retailer shops and other public places are compelled to ensure contact restrictions through access controls. Sometimes, long queues are created and contact between waiting people can hardly be avoided, and the desired effect is reversed. Therefore, practical ways to limit such unwanted situations need to be created in a citizen/consumer-friendly format, all the more that “top-down” legal/procedural micromanagement of each and every case on the part of the authorities exceeds their scope and skills. “Bottom-up” market solutions are called for.
The Berlin-Madrid-based start-up WaitSafe just launched the solution to this problem. At www.waitsafe.net, shops, libraries, community offices, and many other public institutions can set up individual appointment booking websites in a few minutes. It only requires some master data, the opening hours, while the system takes care of the booking management. WaitSafe offers a smooth solution for all providers of public facilities. This project was initiated at the Europe-wide Hackathon #EUvsVirus and was developed from scratch to the final product within ten days.
“The core task of our development was to make the system as easy as possible for all users. That’s why visitors don’t have to register a user account or download anything, but participate directly using their browser”, says Johannes Schubert, initiator of the platform.
The head of development, Lisardo Prieto González, added: “Data protection plays a crucial role for us so that as many people as possible can benefit from the system. So, everything works anonymously, such as if you were joining a real queue, but without the stress of waiting”. A further advantage for customers and visitors, in addition to avoiding waiting times, is the selection of an appointment at a time of low occupancy.
As a social service, the use of WaitSafe’s essential functions is entirely free of charge, yet additional paid features are planned. Further, the start-up team is also looking for sponsors. Besides shops, the system is designed to support social services, administration and leisure facilities as well. WaitSafe’s declared aim is to help society in re-attending to its daily business safely and relaxed despite various restrictions.
Notably, multi-language support has been implemented, in the spirit of multilinguistic Europe, so WaitSafe already works in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish and Portuguese. But political borders are secondary to the need to find solutions for people. Russian language support will follow soon, and the linguistic package will be continuously enriched. Initially, the creators expected that the biggest attraction for their service will come from supermarkets and shops, but surprisingly for them, so far, they received most interest from co-working spaces. But the system is completely adaptable to a variety of situations.