Coming from Ghana in West Africa, we saw how the Corona Virus had devasted many countries. We knew it was going to find its way into Africa and Ghana. Most African counties do not have widespread internet like the USA , Europe or Asia has. Many people also live below the poverty line, hence may not afford to make calls to support lines if they do not have airtime. We also knew that the only way to reduce the virus's impact was to quickly track infected people and isolate them, including anyone who had made contact with them. So we Built Contact Trace, a USSD Based Contact Tracing Tool for Corona Virus Patients and Friends. USSD services do not require users to have internet, just a cellular network. Hence this solution will reach the deepest and furthest of places.
What it does
Contact Trace us allows individuals with symptoms of the virus to report themselves voluntarily signal authorities that 1. They have symptoms of the virus, or
- They are certain they have the virus or
- They need help to be picked up from their location to the hospital and most importantly.
- They have made contact with some people and they will like the authorities to know the phone numbers and location of those they have made contact with.
How we built it
We built by extracting the existing CRM we built for church management and layering on top of it a USSD service that allows users to interact with the API via simple options of predefined options that are picked by selecting a number. While interacting, all the critical information is captured into a database which is accessed via a user interface on the CRM. Authorities have access to this interface from which they can see the request, phone numbers, names and locations of anyone who volunteered their information. The admin portal/CRM is encrypted and requires 2-factor authentication to have access to the information. The backend is encrypted and except you've been granted access you can't see all the data that's going in
Challenges we ran into
Configuring the USSD to talk to our existing schema was a little bit challenging. It's like adopting a tool for winning souls and registering church members to collecting data of coronavirus patients and people who have made contact with them. We have included a mobile app option for those who have data and may want to use a mobile app instead.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're excited we were able to do this in record time using Agile methods and being innovative. Our solution can now be used to engage the masses and allow anyone to indicate if he has any challenges and needs help.
What we learned
It best to build a solution that can easily be adapted to different scenarios irrespective of the use case, the underlying model structure should be very generic. This will save a lot of time when building solutions onto it.
What's next for USSD Based Contact Tracing Tool
Wait for our country leaders to make a decision whether this will be of value to them in fighting the battle against the virus as it scales. Simultaneously, we will pitch it to other African countries who may need it.
Try It out
angular.js, django, feature-phones, mobile-phones, python, rest-api, sms