2 Days to set up a COVID-19 tracking system
for student testing 

When the British Government mandated that any student wishing to leave campus for Christmas requires a 2-stage Covid-19 test, Universities only had a few weeks to come up with solutions. Luckily, the IT team at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) only needed 2 days to set up and launch its digital system. 

Executive Summary

When it comes to domains affected by the pandemic, Education definitely makes the top of the list. A lot of processes have shifted towards the digital world, but this Case Study is about how digital technology can make the physical world a safer place. This is the story of how the resourceful IT team at University of Strathclyde managed to set up a Tracking system for Covid-19 Testing of all students on Campus, in record time.

Client

University of Strathclyde
Glasgow, UK

Industry

Education

Team

2 Low-Code Engineers part of the University IT Department

Applications

Appointment Management

Scheduling Form

Analytics & Reporting

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.

Solution

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Results

Development time

2 days to MVP

It took the team just 2 days to set up the system and launch a production-ready app, which students could use immediately without any compromise.
Training new developers

Weeks, not Years

To bring in new developers to the IT team with the help of Plant an App. New developers, regardless of background and experience, can immediately start using the platform, getting to launch user-ready apps in a matter of weeks.
Students that got to go home

1000+

There were no students left behind. Scheduling was clockwork and all students that scheduled through the new system got to go home and enjoy Christmas with their families.


WHAT WILL YOU BUILD IN 2 DAYS?

The story of University of Strathclyde is definitely one that should inspire and refresh everyone's perspective about Digital Transformation. Let's continue the conversation and find out what we can achieve together.