Riskline leverages AI to create a world of smart travelers

Riskline leverages AI to create a world of smart travelers
Photo by Emanuel on Unsplash

Riskline is a travel risk intelligence company leveraging AI to process data to create a world of smart travellers and easy journeys. Using artificial intelligence, the company offers travellers insights and guidance to influence and protect their behaviour. Its mission is to provide risk assessments for hundreds of destinations worldwide. By monitoring the world’s political crises, security developments, and travel news, the company is always aware of any crucial event or crisis that might affect travellers.

Riskline sends an initial alert message within a couple of minutes for any breaking incidents to inform travellers and help them make the best decision regarding their trips.

Founded in 2007 by current CEO Kennet Nordlien, Riskline employs 30+ people across 20 countries spanning 12 time zones. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, the company operates 24/7, 365 days a year, providing real-time intelligence services across 220+ countries and territories and 260+ cities. We discussed with Suzanne Sangiovese, the company’s Director of Travel and Technology, to better understand the technology behind this company and the process Riskline follows to deliver accurate and real-time risk assessments.

Suzanne has over a decade of experience in the travel industry. In her current role, she is the Director of Travel and Technology at Riskline. In this travel risk intelligence company, she oversees the developing and implementing strategies that promote Riskline’s growth in the travel sector and foster the new vision for the company’s technical products. Suzanne serves on the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Europe’s Risk Committee and is a Women in APIs community member and the Women in International Security (WIIS) organization. She holds an MSc in International Security and Global Governance from Birkbeck, University of London.

First, tell us a little about Riskline. What exactly does it do, and how does it use technology?

Riskline is a provider of travel risk data. We are on a mission to create a world of smart travellers and easy journeys by providing vital information about travel requirements, travel conditions, and what to expect in destinations across the globe.

Our intelligence and data are 100 per cent human-verified, but technology is imperative to our operations. Using custom-built AI tools, we gather data from over 100,000 sources, including traditional media, government bodies, international agencies, and social media. This information is then reviewed by our professional team of highly-trained analysts located all across the globe.

We then provide that data to the travel, security, assistance, and insurance industries through APIs that can be integrated directly into our customers’ platforms and our dedicated portal.

Travel insurance is constantly gaining more and more popularity in the post-pandemic era. Is this something that will continue?

With so much upheaval and uncertainty over the last few years, more travellers than ever are thinking about travel insurance – e.g. there has been a 58 per cent increase in American travellers who are looking to buy travel insurance in 2023 compared to those who had bought it previously (VisitorsCoverage survey 2023).

What do you think should be the priorities of travellers when looking for insurance?

When it comes to travel insurance, travellers are looking for coverage that protects them from the following:

Flight delays and cancellations – particularly as significant incidents continue to receive news coverage, travellers are more aware of the possibility of this happening to them. Delays and cancellations happen frequently, and people don’t want to be left stranded. Inclement weather and serious weather events – as we’ve seen recently, storms and floods (including what’s currently happening on the West Coast in the US) develop quickly and have a big disruptive effect.

Risk of illness while away – while COVID-19 has made travellers more sensitive to getting sick while away, it’s also made them more conscious about ensuring they have access to medical treatment and flexibility in their plans to accommodate longer stays due to illness. Uncertainty generally – the last few years have seen a lot of upheaval in people’s lives, and they have felt the effects of events that are happening far away (e.g. The Ukraine conflict directly impacting their energy costs). This means people want to feel protected in case something happens.

Photo by Phil Mosley on Unsplash

Are there any tips that one can follow when travelling to conflict-driven countries?

Prior research:

Look at official government guidelines for where you are travelling to – if your home country has a strict advisory not to travel to that destination; it may void your travel insurance. Research the country to know the most significant risks and where/when you will encounter them: What information, visas, and documents do you need to enter?

What are the on-the-ground conditions like? E.g. Transportation, medical care availability, infrastructure quality, seasonal weather patterns, or environmental risks that may affect your ability to move around easily.

Practical Preparation:

Using the research, make a plan for what you will be doing on your trip, how you will get around, and what to do in an emergency, and share that with relevant people.

Also, plan for how you will approach your trip; the key advice is to:

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Keep a low profile – avoid standing out.

Avoid large crowds or demonstrations.

Avoid large numbers of armed forces.

Trust your instincts – if you notice something suspicious or a situation ‘feels wrong’, then leave the area immediately.

Prepare for sudden changes: have a go bag ready and packed with necessary items to last you for 24 hours.

Have emergency contact details noted down somewhere that isn’t your phone, including local embassy or consulate contacts.

What do you think are the most significant risks facing travellers in 2023?

Climate change correlation and the rise in diseases:

Climate change has devastated ecosystems, disrupting the balance between species and increasing the risk of cross-species contamination, just like we saw with COVID-19. In the United States (US), mild winters and rising temperatures have led illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites to more than double between 2004 and 2018.

The threat of new diseases, such as COVID-19, mpox, MERS, and Zika, has become part of the calculus of risk that people take in their everyday activities, including travel.

Extreme weather:

Climate change is driving extreme weather events and will exacerbate them in the future. In the US this summer, hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires will likely cause disruption for travellers. Even previously temperate areas such as northern/western Europe are now experiencing extreme weather. Such as in France, Germany, and the UK, unprecedented heat waves were experienced in 2022.

Rainy seasons are also becoming longer and more devastating in tropical nations such as Thailand and Brazil.

Security in a post-COVID world:

Some countries, such as India and Turkey, have used the pandemic to launch crackdowns on freedom of movement, assembly, and privacy rights. Travellers need to be aware when they are travelling to less politically free nations not to fall foul of the law, where even social media accounts are monitored in some countries.

Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

What can we expect from Riskline in the coming years?

Over the past 15 years, there has been a definite shift in travel risk, the corporate duty of care, and security space. The post-9/11 security and risk paradigm no longer holds in the dynamic travel landscape we sit in today. Riskline is now focusing on empowering and enabling travellers to make smart and safe decisions so they can be prepared for their journey regardless of trip type or destination. We’ll be doing this by including a broader range of data in our database to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for what travellers need to know about a destination. For our industry clients, we are focused on making it easier to access our data and use it to build better predictive models of how the travel landscape will unfold. Finally, staying true to our mission, we want to continue to simplify the complex and ensure the right data is delivered to the right person at the right time by working with our partners to enable personalization.

George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden.