With Restolog, an EPITA student endeavors to help restaurant owners during the Covid-19 pandemic

With Restolog, an EPITA student endeavors to help restaurant owners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To counter the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants are obligated to maintain a register of their customers for contact tracing purposes. In order to simplify the life of restaurant owners and guarantee the confidentiality of personal data, 4th year student Baptiste Raabe (EPITA class of 2022) decided to create Restologa free and totally secure online registry service!

Why did you want to create Restolog?

Baptiste Raabe: As of October 6, French government measures require all restaurants to keep a record of customers who have visited their establishments to help with contact tracing in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak.  Customers will be notified if another customer, who was on the premises at the same time, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This system was first imposed in areas classified as “pink” and has since been made mandatory throughout France. This register is most often written down on paper; however, this can be restrictive.  Paper may get lost, it requires the use of a pen which must be disinfected after each customer, etc. This is why Restolog is a better choice, as it offers a digital register via the creation of a QR code that can be displayed in front of the restaurant or on the tables. The customers then scan the QR code with their smartphone and are directed to a form allowing them to enter their contact details. The other advantage is that it prevents customers from blocking the entrance of the establishment or other areas of the restaurant.  Customers only have to sit down and scan their codes, rather than waiting in line to sign a register. It is also a way to better protect yourself and others from coronavirus, and in particular, to respect the minimum distance of one meter between individuals. Finally, the digital aspect guarantees the confidentiality of personal data, which is stored on a secure server and automatically deleted after 14 days. This is not possible with a paper register. On the contrary, a sheet of paper can fly away, be copied or possibly reused for other purposes.

Baptiste Raabe, the founder of Restolog

Why did you want to create Restolog?

Baptiste Raabe: As of October 6, French government measures require all restaurants to keep a record of customers who have visited their establishments to help with contact tracing in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak.  Customers will be notified if another customer, who was on the premises at the same time, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This system was first imposed in areas classified as “pink” and has since been made mandatory throughout France. This register is most often written down on paper; however, this can be restrictive.  Paper may get lost, it requires the use of a pen which must be disinfected after each customer, etc. This is why Restolog is a better choice, as it offers a digital register via the creation of a QR code that can be displayed in front of the restaurant or on the tables. The customers then scan the QR code with their smartphone and are directed to a form allowing them to enter their contact details. The other advantage is that it prevents customers from blocking the entrance of the establishment or other areas of the restaurant.  Customers only have to sit down and scan their codes, rather than waiting in line to sign a register. It is also a way to better protect yourself and others from coronavirus, and in particular, to respect the minimum distance of one meter between individuals. Finally, the digital aspect guarantees the confidentiality of personal data, which is stored on a secure server and automatically deleted after 14 days. This is not possible with a paper register. On the contrary, a sheet of paper can fly away, be copied or possibly reused for other purposes.

Where did you get the idea for this initiative?

By eating in a restaurant! Some colleagues and I went to lunch and had to stand in line for ten minutes just to fill out a piece of paper. That’s when I had the idea for the QR code. Why wait when we could all fill out the register simultaneously using our smartphones? In addition to the long and unpleasant wait, I also noticed that the 1 meter distance between individuals was not respected and that when the restaurant lent its customers a pen – which is practical because we don’t all go to lunch with a pen on hand – it was used by everyone without being disinfected and could therefore easily transmit the virus!

So, the idea came to me on Thursday, October 8th.  I worked on the program overnight from Friday to Saturday in order to have a system that would be nearly functional by the end of the weekend. The service may now be used by all restaurants. My goal is to widely share the system so that a maximum number of people can use it. Moreover, the project is non-profitable. The service is free and is designed above all to help restaurants more easily manage the crisis, especially since the new curfews have been imposed in many cities. As the restaurant sector has been highly impacted by Covid-19, it was important for me to be able to help in this way.

If I were a restaurant owner and interested in your digital register, what should I do?

It’s very easy! Just go to the www.restolog.fr website, and register by entering your first and last name, email address and a password. Once the registration is complete, the restaurant owner is sent to a page that allows him/her to enter information on one or several establishments. Indeed, the goal behind Restolog is also to work with restaurants which have several establishments, or even a chain of restaurants. Each restaurant owner must enter the restaurant’s name and address, so that it can be easily identified afterwards and not confused with an establishment of the same name. As soon as this information is recorded, the restaurant owner receives a QR code that can be printed or displayed on a screen at the entrance. The customer simply scans the code and is then automatically redirected to a form that must be filled out with the customer’s first and last name and telephone number, as required by the current health protocol.

Why is data security important?

Since the GDPR became law, the issue of personal data security has become unavoidable. In fact, more and more people are aware that very large companies can collect a great deal of data, allowing them to track the actions of Internet users. Some people, including myself, may be reluctant about having their data collected. A name and a phone number are not trivial data. Personally, I don’t want everyone to know if I went to a specific restaurant on a specific day. Therefore, even if this data collection is mandatory due to health measures, it must still be done in compliance with the GDPR. This means that there must be a minimum level of security for this database to prevent a security breach or data leak. As Restolog is not used for commercial purposes, this ensures that the data cannot be sold to third parties, communicated to anyone or used for any other purpose than the possible transmission to the health authorities when there is a proven case of Covid-19. Moreover, this information is provided to both the customer and the restaurant owner. And by registering, restaurant owners are also committed to not sharing their customers’ personal data.

What have you done to make the program secure?

The site is in https and developed using the most recent web standards to provide a fairly powerful security base. Thus, all communication between the databases and the server is encrypted. The hosting server is also secure. In the end, only the restaurants have access to the data, if they explicitly request it. And if restaurant owners ask for data from a specific day, they must guarantee that it is for a Covid-19 case and that they have received an explicit request from a ministerial agency.

Will you speak with government officials about this program so that they can use it or, at least, promote it?

It would be great to see the government using or promoting the site! In any case, if it can help certain restaurants, that alone is fantastic. Besides, when I started working on the project, I imagined that it would mainly be used by large restaurant groups, to allow for quicker and simpler customer registration. I was thinking in particular of fast-food chains, which are very crowded and generate a lot of traffic. Perhaps certain chains have already developed their own solution – they tend to be highly responsive – but if this is not the case, they can call on Restolog.

These registers are not only used in France. Other countries, such as Germany, have asked restaurants to collect customer contact information. Can foreign restaurants also use Restolog?

They can use it, of course, although the website was designed in line with French legislation. I haven’t looked at the specific aspects of the directives in other countries.  As the site complies with the conditions regarding data and the sanitary framework in France, I am not sure that it would apply to Germany, for example. However, if individuals from another country wish to adapt the concept to their own country, they can contact me. It would be a pleasure to work with them!

Discover Restolog on its website, and social networks(FacebookInstagram and Twitter)


Baptiste, a student with a passion for cyber security

If Baptiste came up with the idea for Restolog, it is because he highly enjoys the information security industry. It is therefore no coincidence that Baptiste, who is currently doing an internship until the end of January in a governmental department, plans to major in Systems, Networks and Security (SRS) at EPITA. The goal for the future engineer is clear: to be able to work in cyber security, the field that interests him the most!