The 4th wave
Contrary to hopes in the summer, the Corona pandemic is far from over. Quite the opposite, since the beginning of autumn, Covid is back with a vengeance, and we headed straight into the 4th wave of the pandemic. New measures to prevent the further spreading of the virus have already started, and of course, LEAD Horizon’s PCR testing web app is a vital part of those. Writing a blog about our project’s involvement in these measures that is not outdated as soon as it’s released is quite tricky, so excuse any inconsistencies in this regard. Oh, we are back in lockdown.
Anyway, since our last blog and the extensive case study about LEAD Horizon, the product reached over 10 million tests, have up to 260.000 tests daily, and we’ve added several cool new features in line with new Covid guidelines, specifically the school dashboard in September and the company dashboard in October.
Back to school
Children are the segment of society most disproportionately affected by the pandemic. While the risk to most of them is relatively low, many of the measures hit them hardest. Closed schools and distance learning automatically mean a significant reduction in social contact, and the loss of recreational, sporting, and cultural activities exacerbate this situation. On top of that, almost two years of the pandemic is a perceived much longer period for children and adolescents than for adults. No one can give them back these months.
September was the first time after months of distance learning that schoolchildren were allowed to attend their classes in person. To create a safe environment for their return, the stakeholders of “Alles gurgelt!” tasked LEAD Horizon and us to expand the PCR testing web app for schools. The most important maxim was to complete the project in a timely manner to ensure a smooth start to school. Spearheaded by Angela Hengsberger the project “Alles gurgelt! Für mehr Schule.” was born.
The additional requirements to the product were high:
- Enable teachers to link student data to PCR gargle test sample numbers easily
- Functionality even without smartphone access
- Relieving instead of burdening the teaching staff
Our goal for the expansion was simple: classes should complete the tests in as short a time as possible while keeping the administrative burden on teachers to a minimum. In addition, it is essential that all students can participate, even if they do not have access to a smartphone. It works like this:
Students receive a personalized QR code to link their profile to their school. Then they test themselves at home or under the supervision of the teaching staff at school. The teacher can easily import a class list with the necessary user data into the system to link it to the respective sample numbers of the PCR gargle tests through unique QR codes of the users and make them accessible to the laboratory. The teacher can also view the results of the assigned classes in the system at any time and, if necessary, inform guardians or the school about positive or not evaluable results.
Everything else works exactly as in the tried and tested public version. In the first two months of the program, the Viennese pupils tested themselves over 1.2 million times.
Testing done right
Even though approximately 70% of the population has had at least the first vaccination shot, the 4th wave that hit Austria in November is the worst outbreak of this pandemic. While other states have been hit hard, Vienna sees comparatively low numbers, despite being a very densely populated city. One of the biggest reasons for this is the excellent testing system that LEAD Horizon, the city of Vienna, and all other involved stakeholders set up. To contain the spread of the virus in the workplace, the Austrian government has decided that from November 15, 3G (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) will also apply at work.
Safe at work
The requirement for 3G, or in some cases even 2.5G (only PCR tests allowed for testing), has put a lot of stress on several groups: employers, employees, and the servers running the LEAD Horizon web app. Thankfully, we expanded the server capacity over the summer in anticipation of the school update. Hence, we were duly prepared for the sharp increase in testing numbers (from 300,000 tests per week in June to 250,000 tests per day in November).
3G in the workplace, however, posed a very disruptive moment for companies, so giving employers a way to run the tests for their teams centrally was of tremendous importance. Thankfully we created the school dashboard with many other use cases in mind, so the underlying concepts and system-architecture allowed the quick adaptation to the new requirements. Due to this and some similarities between the dashboards, we could roll out the company dashboard extremely quickly upon the announcement of the new measures.
How to end a blog like this? I could send you to our case study about an app we built during the first lockdown, which enables people to help each other or tell you to follow us on Instagram if you want to see the people responsible for the different parts of the LEAD Horizon web app.
But I prefer to end on a personal note. Despite the bad news, it is essential to remember that we are making great strides toward ending the pandemic. The testing infrastructure, not only in Vienna but throughout Austria, is picking up speed, and the vaccination rate is also rising steadily. I hope that this is our last blog on Covid-19 and that we will use this technology, which can deliver much more in other ways in the future. Stay healthy!