The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association is partnering with a virtual restaurant management company powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide its members with health screening and contact tracing software.
Hospitality businesses that are not members with the MRLA will be able to access the software for $25 a month per location, while members can access the software for free from Midland-based BYOD Inc. The tools will be able to help store contact tracing information from customers as well as facilitate health screening for employees.
“We are proud to partner with BYOD to provide the best tools available for contact tracing,” MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow said in a statement. “As a Michigan-based company, BYOD leadership understands the complex environment in which restaurants and other businesses operate in our state to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees. Providing employee health screening and guest contact tracing software enables restaurant owners to effectively and securely do their part as we work toward full reintegration.”
One of the software tools, called GUEST PROTECT, can be used with any smartphone with a camera to scan a QR code that is unique to the restaurant. The user will be able to enter their name, phone number and email address as encrypted data that is sent to a secure Amazon Web Services Cloud for retrieval if it needs to be accessed later by the public health department.
The process is designed to take less than 20 seconds and can be completed by the customer or business.
Some backlash followed COVID-19 restrictions that went into place for restaurants on Nov. 2 that required customers to provide their names and phone numbers when they dined at a restaurant. Many restaurant owners were unsure about how they were expected to enforce the rule, causing the state Department of Health and Human Services to back off on the rule the day after it went into effect, changing it to a recommendation to collect contact tracing information from customers.
“In the restaurant business, people don’t see all the measures that are handled behind the scenes, but they have always trusted the right protocols were in place,” said BYOD owner and founder Dave Dittenber. “As we operate within ‘the new normal’ and embrace more public-facing transparency, this technology shows consumers that restaurants are taking the necessary steps to create a safe dining environment.”
Restaurants will also have access to BYOD’s tool called TEMP PROTECT. The mobile application will provide a health screening survey with five questions and a QR code for location scanning. Staff members’ responses will be encrypted and stored in a secure cloud and accessible by the administrator of the account. The app requires the user to re-certify results on a daily basis.