Sometimes it can be a little hard to comprehend how long we have been working from home now. Lockdown has been a difficult road for many, and it feels novel and jaded all at the same time.
And where we were previously seeking for ways to stay connected and work from home, we’re now heading into a new phase. One where we’ll be starting again but this time, with new rules in place, new ways of working and a whole new approach to what we previously took for granted.
Businesses are in the same boat but at the same time, they all have different needs, and everyone is looking for simple ways to enable a safe and productive working environment.
One of the ways we’re helping organisations to do this is with our Safe Trace App which is a contact tracing app for employers.
Purpose-built by the Evros Labs team here in Ireland, it’s a simple way for businesses to enable contact tracing while also providing a reliable and up-to-date tool for managing all of your contact data.
Power Apps Developers, Ioanna Kyrana and Mario DeSousa, are two of the minds behind the technology. We spoke to them to find out more about how they went about building the app.
Safe Trace: Behind the Contact Tracing App
Returning to work: Government safety requirements
One of the key elements that sparked off the development of the contact tracing app was the introduction of the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol.
Within this are several requirements that businesses need to comply with in order to be able to declare their workplace safe for their staff.
Not just an advisory, some organisations are already being audited by the HSA so it’s a vital part in being able to open up again.
One of the requirements was for companies to have in place a process for contact tracing as well as a protocol should a positive case be identified:
“The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in protecting the worker involved, their colleagues, customers or others at the workplace.
- Keep a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing.
- Inform workers and others of the purpose of the log.
- Display information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Provide up to date information on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and
- Provide instruction for workers to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of
- COVID-19 during work.”
Ioanna and Mario explain the team approached it like they would any project by first gathering a detailed map of requirements.
This was so that they could fully understand what the app needed to do so that it would comply with what the Government Protocol.
“We also worked with our own HR department to analyse the requirements and check what responsibilities companies were being assigned in heading back to work,” says Mario.
Building the contact tracing app for businesses
“We then went about creating a baseline model of the app,” says Mario.
This process was largely facilitated by the fact that the App Development Team already has a library of previously designed and built components, which they could use to lay the foundations of the new app.
It also meant the overall timeframe was greatly reduced without compromising quality and testing.
As each app is being developed, the team continually work with either the client or in this instance, the Evros HR department, to ensure that the app is doing everything it needs to.
And this includes working through the actual process flow.
“We break it down into steps. So, for example, when someone comes into contact with another person, what happens next? What data is recorded and once one person has logged a contact, is that contact’s information then auto populated to match, in case one person forgets for example,” says Mario.
After around three weeks, the app was built but further requirements were then coming in which meant modifications needed to be made.
“As each requirement was coming in, we were asking ourselves, what can we do to further improve the app, how can we make it better, how can we help businesses and make it easier for the end-user which in this case will be staff and HR,” says Mario.
The team then tests the app fully to make sure there are no bugs and that everything is robust.
Moreover, they make sure that the app works on multiple different devices including both Android and Apple devices.
“Because we are using Microsoft Power Apps as a base, we need to make certain modifications to the app to ensure it is compatible with an iPhone or iPad for example,” says Ioanna.
“And we need to make sure the app is compatible for Desktop use as well as mobile.”
Using Microsoft Power Apps
By using Microsoft Power Apps, the team was able to develop a framework for the Safe Trace App quickly which they could then develop further to make it bespoke.
“Without Power Apps, it would have taken us months to build, so the platform really helped us to build a useful product quickly,” says Ioanna.
“And not only that, Power Apps makes it easy for us to change and update the code too.”
“Developing is like building, it’s like creating so it’s a great feeling when you see people using something you have created and you make them happy,” says Ioanna.
“For me, using Power Apps is everything because I can trust the technology and I know it’s going to work,” she says.
Empowering a Safer Workplace
Safe Trace is available on its own or as a feature within the Evros Connect App which is a Company Communications App.
This app is already helping businesses comply with further requirements within the Government safety protocol such as reacting within an emergency and keeping staff up to date with information from relevant and trusted bodies.
We have also built numerous other tools for helping businesses return to work safely including our Visitor 365 App which is enabling businesses to screen guests before they enter the premises.
How can we help your business?
Our apps are built using Microsoft Technologies making them secure and compatible with your environment. By doing this, it also simplifies the licensing side of things for many businesses.
Furthermore, because we have experienced technologists working behind the scenes at Evros, we’re able to customise our apps for your business.