Outbreak Detection Team 9
No one has suffered more from the repercussions of COVID more than students. Online learning has disrupted education at such deep levels that this shock in routine will leave a lasting effect for decades. At such an impressionable age, students miss out on their prime years to learn academically and socially due to the disruption from COVID. College students especially are now forced to relearn their idea of college life that primarily revolves around in-person academic and social events. For so long, in-person interactions have been at the core of living on-campus—interactions with peers, professors, club members, and others. With COVID-19, these interactions are feared and thought of as unsafe, so people have been isolating themselves from others. This life is not normal. Students do not know how to go about without these necessary interactions.
The COVID outbreak website we have created, TechPoint Tracer, will ensure that college students can continue to have meaningful interactions as long as it is safe. Our website will allow students to see, in real-time, where they should avoid, and where they can gather while being safe and following necessary restrictions. While online interactions seem to be the “new normal,” it should not have to be the only option.
Amanda Stern (Business Analyst, Sophomore Finance @ IU Bloomington) Amanda was responsible for creating the business model canvas and environmental analysis, along with help from the members of the Go-Squad. She also put together several documents and the final presentation with the help of other team members.
Sydney Jackson (Project Manager, Senior Psychology and Sociology @ Grambling State University) Sydney created meetings with team members and coaches based on all members’ schedules. She also made sure to check in individually with team members and made sure everyone was promptly completing their tasks. Sydney also worked on researching HIPPA guidelines as well as the customer persona.
Kevin Chong (Marketing, Senior Marketing, Sales, and Operations Management Major @IU Bloomington) Kevin was responsible for the final value proposition canvas as well as creating the pricing model. He organized an asynchronous communication platform where members could discuss group work and ideas related to the project.
Rocio Cardona (Software Developer, Graduate student Software Engineering @ The University of Texas at El Paso) Rocio put together most of the TechPoint Tracer website including the set up of the code repo, integrating 3rd party software, storage, and deployment. She also informed the team of progress made weekly. She worked on the abstract and also put the product demo video together.
How did you decide on this customer segment, problem, and solution?
We talked with our team coaches about two different customer segments we could focus our idea. We narrowed it down to those in the business workforce and then college students. Focusing on college students felt the most impactful for us as it hits home harder.
As college students, we understand how the average college student prefers to communicate. So we decided to go with a website that would primarily use text messaging and emails like most universities to get their alerts across to students. The website was the best way to go mainly because many colleges and universities require laptops or access to a computer for daily usage.
How did your team build and iterate on the solution?
Our team’s first step was to conduct research and collect information about the practices already in place regarding COVID-19 tracing. Although there were some practices directed toward preventing outbreaks, this information is not readily available to the public so they could take preventive measures such as avoiding public places where there had been a recent case or being tested if one case was reported in a public place they had recently visited. They could have possibly been exposed to COVID-19. That is how the solution of wanting to have a way of informing the public they may have been exposed started.
We then shifted our focus to universities since this is something that worries us as students. We want to be informed about recent cases on our campus, where they are reported, and what we could do if we thought we were at risk or exposed as well as having reliable resources in a world of information overload. After having decided this solution, the Pro-Squad created a low-fidelity prototype that was then presented to the rest of the team and coaches to validate our idea. After receiving their feedback, the implementation began. Every time a new feature was created, it would be integrated to the main branch in the GitHub repository to be released and tested, where team members could provide their feedback during the weekly meeting until we arrived at our final product.
The average Indiana college/university student fees for their health center is between $48.05 - $55. The table below shows where we plan how we receive payment from institutions based on size:
The following is a list of links to our work:
Web Application Architecture
The TechPoint Tracer has a basic Three-Tier Architecture consisting of a client, a server, and a database:
- Client - User (university members interacting with TechPoint Tracer's web user interface).
- Database - Techpoint Tracer utilizes a MySQL database to save collected data in the reporting process.
Key Tools, Libraries, and Frameworks
- Twilio’s SendGrid PHP API Library used along with the PHPMailer Library in our project will allow the health center administrator to send email alerts to inform university members when a new case is confirmed and the location of the case. We chose them because they are free, third-party open-source libraries we could easily integrate into our system through Heroku.
- Python’s library Faker was used to populate the database tables with data used for testing the web application. We decided to use this library to save us the work of populating the database manually and used the Python version of it because it required a more straightforward set up than the PHP version.
- Our web application is deployed in Heroku. We chose this deployment platform because it allowed us to integrate all of our third-party software in one place. It also allowed us to integrate our GitHub repository to the application we created in Heroku to allow automatic deployments without the need to worry about dependencies.
- GitHub was used as our primary file system repository. We chose GitHub because it allowed team members to work in the project, keep track of changes, and it could be easily integrated with Heroku to deploy our web application.
- The server side of the application runs in PHP 7.2. It was chosen because it is a free, open-source language that has plenty of documentation online with a good framework base that helped us save time during the implementation of certain aspects of our website.
- We used the front-end framework Bootstrap to add animations and styling to our website. Using these ready-to-use interface components allowed us to save time during front-end design and enabled us to focus on back-end functionality.
- ClearDB MySQL was chosen as our open-source relational database because it was the database our team members were most familiar with and because it could be easily integrated into Heroku. The database is used to store the information collected from university members regarding COVID-19 through the website’s self-report questionnaire.
If you had another 5 weeks to work on this what would you do next?
If we had more time to perfect our website, we would put more work into our main workflows, such as the interactive hotspot map and the user survey. Fine-tuning these aspects of our website would make the user experience as seamless as possible. They would allow students and faculty of the Indiana colleges/universities to update COVID-19 cases quicker than ever before. Putting more work into our website ensures that campus life can be more interactive amidst the whole pandemic, which has forced citizens into isolation. Isolation academically and socially is detrimental to everyone’s routine, so our website would aim even more to mitigate that consequence of COVID-19 within another five weeks.