Cheers lads! UK duo design app to rescue the British pint

Photo credit: Orbital Design
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Pub-loving entrepreneurs Tim Joyce and Justin Smith have launched a new app called Play It Safe, to help businesses keep their customers safe as they open up after lockdown. The app can be used by any business looking to quickly and simply trace visitors – pubs, restaurants, campsites, shops, museums, galleries, and many more.

But let’s focus on the pubs … the visitor-tracking app is free for customers to use and costs the pub just 2p per visit. It’s been designed to collect contact details from pub visitors, so that, in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak, the NHS test and trace teams can quickly get hold of anybody who might have been infected. With locations throughout Yorkshire currently experiencing high transmission rates, this app may make a significant difference to the local hospitality industry.

The Bournemouth-based entrepreneurs designed the app to make it as easy as possible for pubs, restaurants and visitors to use. They said:

“We love a good pint – it’s something we’ve both missed in lockdown. We know Covid-19 has hit everyone hard – families, friends and businesses. So we understand people wanting to go out and meet up. But a second wave of Covid-19 is a real threat.

We want to help businesses to be safe and compliant when they open back up – and in doing that, help our NHS heroes. We want people to be able to meet up and have a good time but still feel that if there was an outbreak, they could be safely traced. We care about pubs and people and we have the skills to make a difference.” 

The pair have been working on projects together for the last three years. When they heard the news about pubs opening, and the issues around the government’s own track and trace app, they knew they needed to step in and find a solution. They put together the app and ensured the design was tested, compliant, secure and launched in time for the reopening of pubs and restaurants.

The way it works is straightforward. Pubs sign up to the app and get a unique URL and QR code to display in the premises to let visitors scan in. Visitors then go to the link on their smartphone, add their name, email address and phone number. They get a screen to say they have logged in. The whole process takes less than a minute and is completely free.

Left to right: Justin Smith from Orbital and Tim Joyce from Happy Tickets

In the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak, the NHS test and trace teams can find out who was at a pub or restaurant at a certain day and time, by simply calling the location in question. The pubs have access to the Play It Safe website and can download the required information. Visitor details are kept on a secure system and automatically deleted after 21 days in accordance with current guidelines. It is GDPR compliant, with businesses acting as data controllers, but none of the details given can be used by pubs later for marketing purposes.

In contrast, the “world-beating” IT solutions so far announced by the government have raised concerns over how personal data will be used and the projects themselves have failed to deliver on all fronts – hugely expensive, significantly delayed and simply not fit for purpose.

Justin and Tim said they wanted to provide peace of mind for businesses and visitors alike. They said: “You just show your phone screen to pub staff so they know you’ve signed in. It is your Passport to a Pint! It saves staff time, no taking down details on bits of paper, storing them securely and then finding all the relevant details if they ever need it.”

They added: “Let’s not be naïve about this. This app will be used – there will be people who get tracked through this app. It is needed. We now know from Melbourne and Texas that when pubs and restaurants reopened, they had a jump in cases, and we can all see what’s happening in Leicester. This is not a ‘nice to have’, this is vital – we are at the most critical time in the UK’s Covid-19 journey so far, as social distancing is relaxed. Play it Safe is a simple, cheap and effective way to keep your business and clients safe – to keep our communities safe.”

As we prepare to this weekend’s further easing of lockdown restrictions – alongside an increase in local cases in Yorkshire – measures like this will be essential to restoring peace of mind (and the economy). It might be a while before we feel safe to raise a glass with our friends, but when that time comes we’ll be sure to say, “cheers lads!”

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