November 23, 2020

Hey Peter, what is that SAFE-T score all about?

If you ask someone in London if it is hot outside, they might say, “bloody awful hot” when the temperature is, let’s say, 78 degrees. Ask someone in Phoenix and 78 might be downright cool but certainly not hot. It’s only declared “hot” in Phoenix when it’s over 100. And if you’re on the east coast, with all that humidity, hot starts around 85. My point of this is that “hot” includes an entire range of temperatures. And imagine if you didn’t have a temperature scale and could only describe the weather as “cold, cool, warm, and hot,” it would make life difficult.

That is why we came up with SAFE-T or Smart Analytics For Educating Travelers. It’s a 1 – 100 scale (100 being good) that provides a more nuanced and real time way for determining how hard the pandemic is hitting a country or state on a relative basis. The other way is broad categories (cold, cool, warm, hot) which is what the CDC does. It’s a fine system that they have employed, I’m not taking any sort of shot at them, I just believe we can augment their scales with a relative scale that is updated daily. Relative in the sense that everywhere on the planet is subject to Covid-19 and some places are relatively safer to go than others (if you choose to travel that is).

SAFE-T was developed in consultation with a CDC epidemiologist on the Covid-19 task force. It takes into account only objective data including trending case counts, tending deaths, testing per deaths, and total number of cases vs the rest of the world or in the case for US states, the overall U.S. totals. And as I mentioned, it is updated daily. So you will see things like Rwanda and the British Virgin Islands both getting a Level 1 (“Low”) ranking from the CDC yet their SAFT-E scores are 76 and 100 respectively. In other words, they both score “low risk” but if you had a client that was really concerned about travel safety you might point out the BVI, which reopens December 1, is a safer choice than Rwanda. This is backed up by objective data: Rwanda has seen a recent spike with 257 new cases in the last week (4.5% of their total) and 7 deaths (15% of their total) whereas BVI (which reopens on December 1) has had no new cases or deaths since September.

Bottom line is that there are 43 tourist-friendly countries that are open to U.S. travelers today. Of those, there are 8 with a score of 75 or above (and two with a score below 25). Please check out DragonSlayer to see how the SAFE-T tool can assist you and your clients in travel planning.