The problem we solve
Many countries are overwhelmed by the virus and realized that they need a better distribution mechanism to reallocate necessary medical equipment, diagnostic resources and skilled labor where it is needed. For example, many university laboratories are well equipped to perform diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2, but they lack the authorization to perform these tests, so patient samples cannot be analyzed. Official test laboratories would need the equipment of these laboratories, as the demand for SARS-CoV-2 testing exceeds their capacity, but this exchange does not exist yet.
We developed a free and open-source platform through which we try to enhance the allocation of important resources in a crisis such as a pandemic. We started off by connecting test laboratories with institutions such as universities that could provide equipment, consumables and qualified staff to assist in performing SARS-CoV-2 tests. Universities can enter their free resources in our database and will be notified as soon as one of the surrounding test laboratories needs these resources. This expands testing capacities so that suspected cases can be tested more quickly. Furthermore the tool can also be extended to other consumables that are currently in short supply in hospitals and in the emergency or nursing services (e.g. gloves, masks, protective goggles, disinfectants; first attempts of donations from universities to hospitals are currently happening very uncoordinatedly), as well as further manpower in terms of hospital or rescue service staff.
The frontend of our tool was developed using the Angular framework. With no registration required, offering institutions can quickly insert all the resources they are willing to lend or to give away and later access and edit it via a customized link. Requesting entities can then search for those available resources through a clean and comprehensive search form. We furthermore offer a subscription service in order to notify about new registered offers. Contact between offering and requesting entity is established through a contact form. This way allows us to maintain a simple and easy to use design while leaving the offering entities full control over their resources.
The backend was build with .NET core. We implemented several safety measures to guarantee secure communication between entities and to keep all the stored data safe. Our modular approach allows us to easily set up the site for any arbitrary country in no time and customize the resource list to specific needs. Furthermore, we also have a translation tool in place to make site available in more languages.
Progress during the EUvsVirus Hackathon
During the EUvsVirus Hackathon we were able to pave the fundament to enable our tool for many more countries. Within the framework of the hackathon our tool was translated into nine different languages (German, English, Spanish, Russian, French, Italien, Malay, Hungarian and Arabic). This monday (27th April) also dates the launch of our platform in Austria, Italy and Malaysia. Furthermore, we established subteams in Sweden, India, Hungary, UK and Switzerland, and began talks with potential teamleads for Belgium, France, Spain and Egypt.
Impact to the crisis
The current problem is that there are resources in the form of skilled labor, equipment and consumables that are needed elsewhere, but there is no exchange between the relevant bodies. This situation is considerably improved by our tool, which can be easily adjusted for the needs of any arbitrary country, hence improving the overall situation on a global scope.
The necessities in order to continue the project
Right now we are seeking out for international partners in various regions to provide us with the input and local support we need to enable the site in their country. Furthermore, backing from official institutions would help us as well. Lastly, we also need more people for development, marketing and legal questions if we want to keep up with our current pace of growth.
After the crisis
With PIRAT, we developed a free and open-source platform through which the allocation of important resources in a crisis can be enhanced. It was build modularly and can be adapted to changing needs. Therefore, PIRAT can be quickly rebuild as a quick emergency response tool when another crisis occurs. In addition to that, it could also be run as a sharing platform for scientific equipment during normal times.