John Houston, Founder, Chairman and CEO of the YPB Group has over 40 years of experience in building successful businesses across the globe. More than a decade ago, John recognised that more and more brands would need to utilise brand protection technologies and got ahead of the counterfeiting tsunami by founding YPB.
As this tumultuous year comes to an end, John is again predicting a major change in business operations – one that will see governments and businesses working closer together, with long-lasting consequences for how we all move, work and live in a post-COVID world.
After this year, which has been so devastating for so many businesses, what do you think is the greatest risk heading into 2021?
John: At the moment the risks are twofold. Number one is that in Australia we haven’t had enormous breakouts. In some other countries it’s tens of thousands of people a day. So currently contact tracing is done manually here. It’s just unscalable, unless governments adopt a more centralized system.
But the second thing is that Australia hasn’t fully opened its international, and only just opened or state borders until now. While the federal government has built the COVID SAFE app, and the state governments are building their own apps, unless there is a mandate that all the data is centrally available, how are you going to get enough people sitting in a room manually cross-matching data if we have a big outbreak?
According to UNSW, every person with COVID-19 will have 10 to 20 contacts to trace, which means if a state has 100 cases a day, you need to trace 1000 to 2000 contacts within 24 to 48 hours or you risk losing control of the epidemic. Any sort of major outbreak will be devastating for Australian businesses and communities, and we need a unified approach for the years ahead.
But, with vaccines on the way, won’t all of this be over soon?
John: We’ve never had a pandemic like this in our lifetimes, and we were all caught off guard. And no one knows what the future is going to look like even with the vaccines. My humble opinion is that COVID-19 is going to change the way in which we behave as a society for years to come, vaccine or no vaccine, and governments and businesses need to be prepared.
Why has YPB decided to offer a contact tracing solution?
When I started YPB I knew I wanted to do something good for humanity, and my idea was brand protection. Fake products cost businesses money, but they can also cost lives. We wanted to help brands protect their products against counterfeits, which also protects consumers.
I knew when the pandemic really took off that I wanted YPB to help protect people and businesses against the impacts of the virus. We are the leading QR code platform solution in Australia and six months ago no one had really heard of using QR codes on a mass scale in this country. We’ve been doing this since 2016 mainly around export and in Asia, and we’ve got a really robust highly capable and scalable platform that works in an Amazon Web Services Cloud environment.
To date, we’ve issued 175 million codes with our YPB Connect Platform, and we have very quickly enhanced it with a range of features to help health systems streamline COVID-19 contact tracing.
What is different about YPB’s contact tracing solution?
Most existing QR code systems were built for marketing purposes, but we have always put security and protection at the centre of our technologies. While the YPB Connect Platform helps businesses meet their mandatory contact tracing requirements, it’s the enhancement of the platform to Connect Sentry that will help governments control outbreaks and keep communities safe.
What happens when someone checks in at a restaurant in NSW, then crosses the border into Victoria and goes to brewery and then we find out they had COVID-19? There’s currently no system linking the data together and centralizing a solution.
Connect Sentry enables contact tracing teams to see an individual’s venue and location history in real-time and see their check-in journey on a map view. It can also produce heat maps and analytics for quick detection of possible clusters. Connect Sentry is built on a proven system – YPB Connect – and so can be rolled out immediately and scaled up to cover the entire country if needed.
What’s your advice to governments and businesses for 2021?
In 2021, complacency will be our biggest enemy. COVID-19 and its impact on how we move through the world will be with all of us for years to come, so we need to get ahead of it now while we can. We need to put our guard up and protect against the uncertainties of the future.
Find out more about Connect Sentry here