With COVID-19 life has come to a standstill for many of us. The need of the hour is to get people back on track and help them move on with their lives as quickly and safely as possible.This was the driving force that sowed the seed of inspiration in us and led to the inception of COVIDPass. We put on our Engineering hats and deliberated on developing an application that helps achieve this goal by not only reducing the overwhelming load on doctors and testing centers (which are now becoming hubs for spread of the disease) but also by encouraging people to become socially responsible and preventing a second wave by giving them an e-pass.
What it does
As you may have learned from our name, the central idea of the app circles around this unique pass system which advises the users on next steps.
- It helps in preventing hospitals and test centers from being overwhelmed and ensuring only necessary testing. How? Through a novel algorithm which takes symptoms, past illnesses, mobility through infected hotspots and contact with others who are possibly infected, the app gives out a risk score, a pass of appropriate color and recommendations. This pass comes in 3 color categories:
Yellow : If the user shows mild to severe symptoms or has come in contact with an infected person, he is recommended to consult a doctor through our in-platform chat box while quarantining himself.
Red : Once the doctor studies the user’s report based on his response, and recognizes risk of COVID- contraction, he advises the user to get himself tested by rendering a red pass. The user can then access a list of nearby testing centers from our platform.
Green : A green pass is given to the user if his risk score is within safety limits. All’s good with the user as of now. Why as of now? Because of several patients being asymptomatic, longer incubation period and high possibility of future contraction, we felt the necessity to shorten the pass validity period to 4 days.
So what’s the big deal about this pass?
- We imagine a post COVID world where people fear accessing crowded public spaces. We believe this COVIDPass will be used as a gateway to access public spaces and provide people a sense of security.
How we built it
The following tools and technologies were utilized to aid in the development of COVIDPass:
1) PhoneGap: A cordova mobile application development framework which can be used for building hybrid applications across all platforms.
2) Framework7: An HTML framework used for developing app components
3) Firebase: Realtime JSON database for handling the data storage requirements and future scalability
4) Python: Using Python Firebase Admin SDK to connect to the real time database and compute the risk score. Utilized Google Places API along with custom package ‘popular times’ to retrieve mobility data.
Challenges we ran into
What is modern-day problem solving without multiple iterations of concept development,possibly hours of debugging and navigating through to achieve the targeted goal. QuaranTeam had its own share of challenges in terms of collaboration, data collection and circumventing user privacy issues. Let’s look at them:
Due to limited resources that provide and give access contact tracing data, incorporating that to factor in for the risk score calculation was a taxing experience. Breach of user privacy was something that as developers we had to be wary of. Devising strategies to evade the privacy concerns and issues that users may have while signing up for our platform kept us on our feet. As much as we are proud to have a diverse team in terms of professions and locations, it poses its own challenges in terms of collaborations. With 5 full time working employees and 1 graduate student, it was a challenging week sticking to deadlines owing to different time zones and keeping up with sprint coding nights.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
A group of talented people chiming in innovative ideas and being enthusiastic to own the tasks definitely helped our boat sail through this week despite all the challenges. Each individual brought out their skills and areas of expertise and was more than willing to go the extra mile to learn new concepts and technologies. We’re proud of how well we synced to each other’s wavelengths and pitched in to cover up for each other, in case of need.
What we learned
This was a tremendous learning experience for each one of us. An extensive research was conducted to deep dive into the medical world and fundamentally understand the disease to be able to go ahead and draw out the model. Development of the app and mathematical modelling of factors to arrive at a score definitely steepened the learning curve for all of us in the areas that we lacked.
What's next for COVIDPass
In the spirit of continuing the momentum, the next steps for QuaranTeam are to integrate a refined contact tracer abiding by the BlueTrace protocol which we believe will improve our model performance. Collaborating with and onboarding doctors on our platform for telemed is one of our main action items as well. Needless to say, we will continue to improve our app for scalability, UI enhancement and bug fixes.