With college move-in day right around the corner, all eyes are on universities as they work to safely welcome students back to campus. Over the past several months, universities have spent millions of dollars preparing for students to return in the fall. However, despite this spending, students, families, and the public still question whether returning to campus is safe.
Universities have put several safety measures in place to comfort students returning to campus. However, these current interventions are expensive and disjointed while requiring heavy personnel and manual processes. In addition, many universities are lacking ways of capturing data and actively engaging with students.
With this in mind, we created Go-VID U. Go-VID U is a mobile app that monitors COVID-19 “hot spots” on campuses, requires symptom check-ins from students, and allows for active communication between students and administration. Go-VID U also includes several other helpful features that allow our app to be the long term and reliable COVID-19 monitoring system universities are currently lacking.
Samantha Becker (Project Manager, Junior Healthcare & Business @ Butler University) Samantha was responsible for organizing weekly team meetings and holding teammates accountable. Samantha also worked with the Go-Squad on the go-to-market plan and final presentation.
Rachel Lindsey (Third Year PharmD Student @ Purdue University College of Pharmacy) Rachel served as part of the business development team. Rachel contributed to the research that built the environmental analysis for the project. She also helped to develop the final presentation slides and video.
Sripranav Potturu (Sophomore Computer Science @ Purdue University) Sripranav served as part of the business development team. Sripranav was responsible for the brainstorming processes and environmental analyses. Sripranav also provided technical insight for the Pro team.
Anh Le (Senior Computer Science @ DePauw University) Anh served as a Software Engineer on the Pro-Squad for the team. Anh was responsible for making the symptoms checker page that allows users to keep track of their health and conditions.
Mirica Yancey (Senior Computer Science @ Valparaiso University) Mirica served as a Software Engineer on the Pro Squad. Mirica created the hotspot page, the announcements page, the user authentication, the backend, and was responsible for the styling of the app.
How did you decide on this customer segment, problem, and solution?
Our challenge is to identify a solution that will detect and limit any future COVID-19 outbreaks among Indiana residents. In our beginning steps of tackling this challenge, our team quickly realized that we needed to initially focus our efforts on a smaller customer segment within Indiana residents. We chose to focus on Indiana colleges and universities and their students and administrators. We feel that as fall approaches, colleges and universities have been put in the spotlight as they make decisions regarding COVID-19. In addition, as college students, we feel that we have personal experiences that allow us to more accurately identify the pains and gains of our customer segment. Through our research, we gained a better view of what the environment surrounding our idea looks like. We began our research with two seperate Google Surveys that we released to the public via social media. Our first survey targeted any Indiana resident. After we decided to narrow our customer segment down to college administrators and students in Indiana, we created another Google survey to target only these individuals. Our Google surveys helped us decide on features we wanted to include in our app, and they helped us gauge our customer segment’s perception of location tracking apps.
Next we focused our research on building an analysis of the environment surrounding our idea. We conducted our research by focusing on the following four forces: industry forces, key trends, market forces, and macroeconomic forces.
First we looked at industry forces. Before creating our business model, we researched and analyzed the market environment we would be entering. We understand that the market for COVID-19 monitoring apps is flooded while many individuals, groups, and even countries work to find a solution to combat the virus digitally. For example, Australia is utilizing an app called CovidSafe, Italy is using an app called Immuni, and Germany is using an app called Corona-Warn-App. These apps have had varying levels of success, with some problems being false positives, false negatives, and not enough citizens downloading the app. We also know that many colleges and universities in Indiana are pushing to bring their students back to campus; however, they are also busy deciding on different solutions and interventions to keep those students safe and healthy. Some of these solutions and interventions include requiring flu vaccinations, requiring COVID-19 testing, eliminating some breaks, training personnel to become human contact tracers, or allowing students to choose to take classes online only if they prefer. By doing this research, we feel that these solutions and interventions by colleges and universities require manual processes and heavy personnel, while they lack abilities to capture data and actively engage with students.
Next, we looked closer at the key trends surrounding our idea. One of the most important key trends surrounding our business is the increased awareness the public currently has of disease control. One can not turn on the news or go to the store without hearing or seeing something related to COVID-19 and the fear and uncertainty surrounding it. In addition, according to the CDC, hospitalizations are still increasing, and mortality due to COVID-19 is still above the epidemic threshold. Another key trend regarding our business model is the pressure that is currently being placed on colleges and universities as fall approaches. Everyone is watching colleges and universities as they make decisions regarding whether they will return students to campus, and how they will go about doing that. There is a growing importance to monitor for future COVID-19 outbreaks, but more specifically, we feel there is a very pressing need for monitoring the COVID-19 impact at colleges and universities as students soon return to their campuses.
Next, we focused on market forces. We have identified some factors that we believe impact the needs of university students and administrators. First, we understand that the serial interval, or time between cases, of COVID-19 is most likely shorter than the incubation period, or time from exposure to symptoms. In other words, it can’t be ruled out that students can be contagious before they show symptoms. In understanding this, we feel that administrators need a way to capture data regarding hotspots and student activity on campus in addition to symptom check-ins and contact tracing. In addition, we feel there is a need for college administrators to more actively engage with their students, and students need to take on the responsibility of staying up-to-date and educated about the virus.
Lastly, we took a look at macroeconomic forces. We understand that with the COVID-19 pandemic has come a large economic burden that has had a large effect on Indiana and the rest of the country. We know that colleges too have been impacted. Many of these colleges and universities have already spent large sums of money in efforts to bring students to campus this fall. Some colleges and universities have spent amounts that have surpassed the government funding they received for COVID-19. In addition, colleges and universities are expecting declines in enrollment and many have had to cancel numerous sporting events. Both of which are major sources of revenue. On the other hand, we also know that universities are approving budgets to focus on making campus safer. For example, Purdue University trustees approved a budget of up to $50 million. With all of this in mind, we understand that colleges are actively looking to make their campus safer from COVID-19; however, they are most likely searching for the most economically efficient ways to do it.
By considering all of our research, we feel that our app provides value to college administrators and students. We focused on interventions that we felt administrators were lacking such as capturing data and active communication with students. We also feel that our app will require less manual processes and less personnel than other interventions and solutions provided by colleges and universities.
How did your team build and iterate on the solution?
Week 1 The project began researching the state of Indiana and how it is currently handling COVID as well as its overall demographic split to understand who to target our app towards and which individuals might have the biggest pain points to solve. Afterwards, we laid out some base features we believed would be beneficial towards our solution and sent out a general survey asking the public what their biggest concerns were regarding those features and how necessary they believed those features to be.
We then created Persona's based off of these concerns to insure that A, the solved them and B, we kept in touch with who the customer was.We quickly realized our original solution of an Indiana wide COVID app was too broad so we decided to narrow it down to a group that will be affected most by COVID very soon, college students.
We once again sent out a survey asking them what their concerns were given the features we demonstrated and asking for any additional features they would like. We found that the features college students wanted more were the hotspot detection and the symptom checker. They enjoyed the idea of a contact tracer but were concerned with privacy and being limited by a positive COVID result. With this in mind, we focused our app more towards the hotspot and giving the user as much anonymity as possible.
With that, we narrowed down the audience and the features we wanted to create and moved on to creating a prototype. We made a high fidelity prototype and tested it against a number of users before moving on to the actual development of the app.
Week 2 After the pro squad decided on the tools for development we created a database design and began the app by creating a user authentication system and hooking it up to a database to pull from. Based on the surveys, we decided to ask the user only for a first name, school, phone and email. Afterwards, we researched questions for the symptom tracker to make it as simple but robust as possible. With the user authentication system done, we began making a simple symptom tracker form and then continued with the announcements page and unloading constantly updated COVID news.
Week 3 After getting the surrounding features done we focused on the hot spot detector. We began by simply seeing when an object entered or exited a fence. Assured that that was updating, we hooked it up to the database to make sure it could still pull the last numbers if the API was ever disabled. After that we integrated the map and tested the fences on the map. Finally we integrated the check in feature, allowing a user to drag their icon to a building to check in.
Week 4 We completed the symptom checker and its migration to different pages depending on the user's answer and went into the final stages with the symptom checker. We added in the necessary alerts to the hot spot detector and color coded the cards to make it more obvious. Then, we hosted the app and began debugging. This required a replacement of our news API to a different one and some other minor changes to make sure it worked on a hosted format.
Week 5 Week 5 was spent debugging and documenting the code to make sure it was readable and that everything in the app folder was necessary. We deployed multiple versions of the app to the web hoster to update it and insure that added features functioned.
- 130 Survey Respondents
- 4 User Testers
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Key Tools, Libraries, and Frameworks
Ionic - an open-source, cross platform mobile app development framework chosen for its adaptability and low-learning curve making it easy to learn and implement within the five weeks. One of our members already knew it which was also a plus. Ionic was the framework for which the app was built on.
Firebase - a database with web hosting chosen for it’s simple to use user interface, easy to update database and free web hosting. In addition to that, it has a number of other support tools we believe would be beneficial if the app were to be extended. We used firebase for our user authentication, database storage and the hosting of our actual app.
TomTom API - a navigation and map API chosen for it’s free use, extendable nature and geo-fencing sub API which made it possible to detect entrancing and exiting predetermined locations. We used this for our hotspot page to get the population in each building at a given time and it can be extended for contact tracing in further development.
GNews API - a news API capable of returning news article information based on a given query. This was actually not our first choice but was later chosen because it is able to be used in production. This was used to display daily covid news stories in the announcements page.
Github - a version control tool capable of tracking what changes were made by whom while also allowing the team to work in tandem on the same project. This was used to store a version of our project and keep track of the changes.
Trello - a project management tool, we used to assign work, check off completed features and keep track of bugs and iterations of our project.
Adobe Creative Cloud - Used to create the prototype and edit the videos. Chosen for it’s robust tools, ease of use, and ability to synchronize between team members
If you had another 5 weeks to work on this, what would you do next?
We were unable to get in contact personally with several administrators while researching our customer segments, so with an extra 5 weeks we would aim to interview administrators from universities all over Indiana to better understand their jobs, pains and gains.
With an extra 5 weeks we would also build our marketing strategy from what it is now to a more substantial plan with target customers in mind. We would also like to experiment with our marketing strategy in order to refine our message to our customers.
We would also strive to further refine our revenue model and compare our prices to those of similar products. This would allow us to predict how many sales we must make to break even and make a profit, as well as create a timeline for Go-VID U’s success.
We would implement an administrative side capable of pushing announcements to students and speaking amongst other administrators in a forum-like setting to make this more of a dual facing app capable of assisting students and providing a space for administration.
We would implement the contact tracing system to give students helpful alerts and increase the efficiency of the COVID Prevention aspect
With an extra 5 weeks we’d also like to extend our User Testing to a wider audience to get more comprehensive feedback on the use of our app and any pain points our users may experience.
Viewing the App
To view the app follow this link on your phone or in a Chrome Browser. For the Chrome Browser, right click and open inspect to view the developer tools and in the top bar next to elements click on the image of different devices to view this as an app in the web browser
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