Case StudyCaso de EstudioCas d'Estudi
Opentrends Creates Urgent App For Health Dept. Response to COVID-19
From the onset of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, governments had to act quickly to identify and contain outbreaks, and disseminate life-saving information to their citizens. Health and public resources were overloaded, and speed of response was crucial. The most proactive cities and governments utilized technology to alleviate resources, monitor the virus’s spread, and instantly provide critical health updates.
One government health department was particularly innovative early in the pandemic. They rapidly released a first version mobile app to identify positive cases, prioritize emergency health response to the most urgent patients, and provide information and monitoring to milder cases. The app successfully achieved its early objectives, but as the pandemic quickly evolved, so did the requirements for the technology.
Evolving Apps at the Speed of a Pandemic
A government health department needed the next version of the app to take into account the rapid discoveries about the virus’s symptoms and transmission. It also needed to manage a greater volume of data and use as cases multiplied. It was apparent that this health emergency would continue to swiftly change, and the Health Department needed an app with the flexibility to evolve along with the pandemic.
In this dire situation, the health department had to depend on a skilled development agency that understood and responded to the gravity of the situation. Opentrends was chosen for this vital project due to their ability to quickly analyze the technical feasibility of the project, and urgently form a project team with the necessary years of experience in the architecture and development of mobile applications.
Opentrends was able to not just provide development, but also understood the necessary components of wide, seamless public distribution of the app, and had expertise in the app’s market management.
Three Week Rapid Emergency App Development
The project began on April 7, 2020 with a meeting between Opentrends and the Health Department. The team faced two major challenges. The major challenge was that the entire design, development, and implementation of the project would need to be completed in just three weeks. An added layer of complexity was the team would be executing the project 100% remotely for the first time for social distancing safety.
This record turnaround was made possible by an extraordinary put-together Agile Transformative Team. A project of this magnitude would usually take months, but the team worked around the clock with breakneck speed and collaboration. Opentrends was driven by the app’s possibilities to make a positive local difference in the pandemic and save lives.
To speed up the process, all parts of the project were developed in parallel, including the scoping, analysis, design, user experience, prototyping, testing, and implementation. A diverse team was assembled to tackle the project from every angle, all working simultaneously to converge at the final stage:
- Product Owner
- Business Analyst
- Xperience Design
- UI Designer
- AWS Technical architect
- Backend architect
- Front-end Engineer
- Front-end Developer
- Android Technical lead
- Android Developer
- iOS Technical lead
- iOS Developer
- QA Lead
- QA Tester
- Project Coordinator
After uninterrupted weeks of dedication to the project, the next iteration of the app was released. In response to the pandemic’s progression, revisions were made for a June release.
A Mobile App For Public Health
The resulting app was called “Stop COVID-19”. The mobile application communicates with a web platform that stores and manages all the data and information. A set of personalized and dynamic web forms monitored the citizens’ symptoms. The “Stop COVID-19” app is able to:
- Provide a COVID-19 self-evaluation test
- Collect and monitor self-evaluation results
- Prioritize and dispatch medical emergency services
- Promote self-isolation and social distancing
- Provide accurate health information to the citizens
- Offer remote health information and telehealth services
The app’s web forms had to be able to adapt and prioritize the ever-changing and most urgent needs of the pandemic. The team built the app for reliability, scalability, and easy public access using:
- Backend information storage and processing on AWS
- API endpoints to communicate with mobile applications on AWS
- Dynamic web forms to perform self-tests and promote results in Amazon S3
- Native mobile applications for iOS and Android
Figure 1: High-level IT architecture diagram
Helping Millions of Citizens in the Pandemic
The “Stop COVID-19” app received 2.5M+ Android and iOS downloads in a week and was mentioned in TechCrunch. The app processed 21.5M+ self-tests so far. Its strong autoscaling architecture was able to contend with the avalanche of cases. Its ability to monitor results, identify the most serious cases, and facilitate emergency response helped mitigate the strain on the government’s public and health resources. The need for in-person care services was reduced, and the app decreased the number of calls to medical emergency services.
The app is a strong example of the use of technology for the public good, and collecting and communicating information in an emergency circumstance. For more information on Opentrends digital solutions for government or other organizations, visit https://www.opentrends.us/en or follow us on the LinkedIn page.