Many universities and colleges have reopened their campuses to continue in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, but increasing coronavirus cases in the U.S have led several universities to switch back to virtual classes. However, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has developed an innovative saliva-based test and established COVID-19 protocols to return to on-campus activities in a safe manner and protect students, faculty, and staﬀ. Since the outbreak began, UIUC has worked closely with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) and established strong quarantine and isolation processes to help minimize the community spread of the virus. The university’s Safer Illinois App manages COVID-19 statuses and ensures that individuals only enter primary campus buildings if they receive a negative test.
“The university is currently averaging approximately 10,000 to 11,000 tests per day across campus sites through the innovative saliva-based testing developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team. Returning to in-person instruction in a safe and responsible way by minimizing the spread of COVID-19 has been the school’s utmost priority using technology solutions.”
Mobisoft has provided technology solutions for several UIUC projects and initiatives. In 2020, Mobisoft's NEMT Pulse program was deployed in less than two weeks to support a variety of emerging transportation needs as part of the ongoing COVID-19 response on campus.
One of the most signiﬁcant problems faced by UIUC was to set up a comprehensive transportation method that could assist COVID-19 positive students and those individuals participating in contract tracing who needed to reach isolation and quarantine locations. A lack of reliable transportation support has the potential to create signiﬁcant bottlenecks and ineﬃciencies that can lead to undesirable health outcomes. The need to limit these students' contact with others to avoid exposure was another concern. It became vital to ﬁnd a solution that could manage these types of situations and help students quickly transition to isolation or quarantine space.
Due to the importance of the campus testing protocols, the transportation department at Facilities & Services needed additional software enhancements to track trip bookings, allot timely rides, manage the drivers, and ensure hygiene and sanitization are maintained before and after the rides while responding to increased demand. To address these issues, UIUC wanted a technology platform that was HIPAA compliant, had an online ride request and booking mechanism, could send and receive real-time notiﬁcations, and could see where the students and driver are in real-time via GPS.
To meet the transportation needs of the university’s COVID-19 testing program, UIUC collaborated with Mobisoft, who has been a technology partner with the campus for various other projects and initiatives. The relationship has been strengthened through this collaboration since Mobisoft provides digital solutions to clients in the healthcare and transportation industries. Their domain expertise is being utilized on the Urbana campus to address the student transportation needs created by the pandemic.
The HIPAA compliant NEMT platform was pivoted to ensure the university’s ride needs were addressed promptly. Full backend support was also provided to ensure all aspects of the patient/driver/admin workﬂows were fully covered end-to-end.
Students who test positive or are required to quarantine by public health oﬃcials through contact tracing can request transportation via the web portal. In addition, the university protects the well-being of other individuals by vetting the current testing status of drivers and designating speciﬁc vehicles exclusive for this service.
Students can access the NEMT software solution at https://myride.fs.illinois.edu/#/customer-booking. The NEMT app features a three-way interface, including a web form for students, a driver app, and a web admin portal.
Students who have tested positive or are participating in contact tracing efforts can schedule and track trips at their to-be quarantine locations in a few clicks. They can receive notiﬁcations about drivers, ﬂeets, and more.
Drivers can get real-time trip requests, including pick-up and drop-oﬀ time, location, routes, etc. They can change their availability using the app and conﬁrm the trip.
An administrator can run and simplify operations using the NEMT. From managing the proﬁles of students, drivers, ﬂeets, to tracking the real-time data of the trip, reporting, and analytics, all aspects can be integrated into one solution.
The unified, scalable, and fully customizable NEMT dispatch software is easy to integrate into any existing system because of its flexibility and customized configurations. The Safer Illinois app was upgraded with the following technical capabilities to enable NEMT services:
With this fully customizable and scalable solution, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been able to eﬃciently manage transportation support services as part of its COVID-19 testing program for students, staﬀ, and faculty. Customized and ﬂexible conﬁgurations of NEMT Pulse solution enhanced their program eﬃciency by enabling value-added and user-friendly services for their students. By adopting digital technology and innovative approaches, the university is successfully setting a benchmark to protect lives and livelihoods within and across the university community.