Contact Tracing at Universities: Complying with Health Regulations using a Mobile App
Matthew Sherlock, Ex Libris
Much has been written about the impact that COVID-19 has and is likely to have on higher education as students return to campus in the face of this unprecedented global pandemic. Significant effort has been invested in understanding what the return to campus will look like and the challenges that staff, students and higher education in general will face.
When talking to our customers, the challenges are many – adapting to changes in policy, maintaining safe working environments, modifying service to operate both remotely and face to face, reassuring returning students that academic quality and their academic experience will not be compromised, maintaining student engagement and levelling up the digital experiences available – to name but a few.
With campusM student engagement platform our goal has always been to allow higher education institutions to make students’ lives easier by providing them with an engaging and empowering experience where they can get stuff done. And this has never been more relevant than it is at this moment.
Listening to our customers in in-depth conversations and roundtable discussions, and understanding the multitude of projects and changes they are facing, we have created a range of quick-to-deploy, simple-to-use product features that target these challenges and help institutions and their students adapt to the New Normal. From including active links to online classes directly in a student’s live timetable to providing regular symptom and sentiment checks through our Quick Polls, we are focused on providing useful, powerful tools that enable HEIs and students to return to campus with confidence.
The campusM platform allowed us to quickly deploy a scalable contact tracing solution within two weeks. This has already proven its worth, helping us respond to questions about whether individuals had scanned in on campus.
In meetings with our New Zealand clients, who began returning to campus earlier than most other universities around the world, these higher education institutions identified the need to allow voluntary contact tracing . The “track-and-trace” requirements soon became a global topic, especially with regulations established in many countries.
Working in collaboration with our customer community, we have designed, developed and released our new Contact Tracing feature. The solution can be enabled in minutes and helps students check in to locations by simply scanning a QR code upon entry. The campusM app handles the heavy lifting, providing user and datetime stamps in seconds and transmitting this information in real-time to the institution. The user experience ensures that students, staff, and faculty as well as other users can view their check-in history, cancel check-ins in case of errors, and most importantly read, review and understand how the feature works, the data that is collected, and the way is the way this data is used by the institution.
Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland deployed the campusM Contact Tracing feature along with QR codes across their campus and within 72 hours had clocked over 1,400 check-ins. The solution also ensured that when asked by Health Services to identify whether students have checked in on campus, Edinburgh Napier was equipped to respond quickly using the transmitted data.
Nico Bruce, Lead IT Developer at Edinburgh Napier University, said, “With the situational changes placed on us by national government at short notice, we had to quickly put in place the ability to provide contact tracking facilities across our campus. The campusM platform allowed us to quickly deploy a scalable contact tracing solution within two weeks. This has already proven its worth, helping us respond to questions about whether individuals had scanned in on campus.”
The Contact Tracing feature has been deployed as part of Edinburgh Napier’s broader campusM offering, combining contact tracing with a student attendance tracker, timetables, access to the learning management system, and other critical student systems accessible from the campusM-powered app, all in a single interface on the student’s device of choice.
As we all continue on this journey through COVID-19, we will continue to listen to our customers and develop campusM to tackle the challenges of today while planning for better times to come.
Interested in learning more? Join our webinar, A Practical Guide to Track, Trace, and Intervention – How campusM can Work for Students and Staff as Part of a COVID Secure Campus, October 15 at 2 pm UK, 9 am ET.
September 21, 2020