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COVID-19 Tracking System Built in 2 Days

University of Strathclyde

The Challenge: 

The Guardian, 28 Nov 2020 - "The government’s plan to test all students before they leave university was thrown into question on Sunday after the UK’s largest academic union raised “grave concerns” about the accuracy of the Covid-19 tests being used and warned that this week’s mass evacuation of students was a "recipe for chaos." 

This sudden announcement forced every UK University on its toes to find quick, reliable solutions to manage the logistics and operations of testing thousands of students. The physical world was just the start - assembling tents, assigning the required personnel, procurement of necessary materials, put up the announcement on the student board and wait for the queues to form. But here is where the first massive challenge comes in - remember, this is a peak-level pandemic season, so uncontrollable queues are an uncontrollable health hazard. Minimizing physical interactions and time spent on-premises are also priorities. And there is the issue that "Free Covid Test" can be attractive for random people hearing about the opportunity. Let's not forget - priority #1 for Universities is making sure that students get to go home to their families, safely.

Clare Hodgkinson, University of Strathclyde:

With Low-code & Plant an App, you allow somebody to do very serious development without having to be a proper developer.

The Solution: 

  1.  Login with University Active Directory - The first step to solve was actually the integration with the existing student Active Directory (AD) so that Strathclyde students could be easily identified by using their existing accounts. This also meant that only University students could actually use the App to schedule appointments.

  2. Appointment Actions - The main purpose of the Student App is for all users to easily schedule appointments and also see the status of their appointments. This is especially important as testing is, in this case, a two-step process, with dependencies between the 2 scheduled appointments.

  3. The Interim Intake Form - This intake form is designed to capture information before the student actually sees the calendar. This type of form takes just minutes to set up in Plant an App, not only the fields, but also all the conditional functionality and actions.

  4. The Calendar Booking Interface - This custom calendar view makes it easy for users to choose the date & time of their desired appointment with just a click. The Calendar is synchronized via API and takes into consideration availability at every testing point and the invisible effect of this is that there are no queues forming, everyone taking the test has an appointment and everyone knows when their appointment is coming up. On the confirmation page, the student gets all relevant information about his booking, but this is automatically sent via email the moment he confirms the booking.

  5. Notifications - On the confirmation page, the student gets all relevant information about his booking, but this is automatically sent via email the moment he confirms the booking.  Another key functionality of the App is the Notification Webform. This helped the IT team to configure an automated notification system to alert the students on the status of their bookings, and, more importantly, their test results.

Back-end Solution

  1.  Admin View - The back-end was built for two key roles, a Super Admin and a Testing Operator. The operator can see appointments, confirm, reschedule and generally manage and take a record of the activity in the testing center. Besides user management capabilities, the Admin has a global overview via Analytics related to users and appointments.

  2. Appointment Management- The back-end user has full visibility on bookings made by students. Even though the platform was built to encourage students to schedule appointments ahead of time, walk-ins are inevitable. Thus, a dedicated functionality for walk-ins has been built in so that operators can easily record this type of test.

  3. Analytics & Reporting -The Admin also has an overview of all appointments, which comes in especially useful for planning out the necessary number of Operators and working hours and required capacity of the Testing Center. 

Out of all the different ways if creating data-driven digital experiences, this is the most straight forward, approahable way of doing it. Moreover, it creates a structure that is flexible, extensivle - there is no constraint to doing further development. 

Jim Everett - Development and Innovation - University of Strathclyde

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