Launched in late January as COVID-19 became a pandemic, the SuspectED application will help public health professionals, in-field responders, investigators and veterinarians detect primary triggers and deliver evidence of emerging and deliberate biological threats.
PixelForce, a startup founded by InDaily 40 Under 40 Alumni Hinney Lo, developed the app around the Flinders University TRI team’s ideas.
Flinders University TRI Project Manager Glen Cuttance said the development process took about 10 months.
“We had a rough idea of what we wanted and PixelForce brought it together for us,” Cuttance said.
Cuttance said the app was divided into the four ‘Chain of Custody’ components used in the field of biological threat reporting: See, Record, Collect and Report and guides front-line workers on the use of personal protective equipment and handling and collecting suspicious material.
The app allows investigators to then upload photos and reports directly through email or secure messaging services.
“As an incident investigation tool, the design of the UI and UX needed to be quick and easy to use,” Lo said.
“A simple interface and a streamlined user flow mean that in just a few minutes investigators can create a highly informative field report that captures all the key details needed in an incident report.”
An international working group that included the World Health Organisation, INTERPOL and the World Organisation for Animal Health first identified the need for the field-based solution and the TRI was invited to put forward a competitive grant to the Government of Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program to fund the development.
The platform was tested in Australia in late 2019, with successful international trials being completed in January and February this year.
Cuttance said the application was specifically created for developing countries that had a shortage of staff and systems to deal with biological risks to humans and animals.
“When faced with indicators of biological threats, rapid response is imperative,” Cuttance said.
“In Australia, there are documented communication pathways that ensure emerging or deliberate biological risks are acted on quickly in line with government regulations.
“But organisations in many countries operate in an environment of reduced resources and less structure, so a variety of identification and communication tools might be used without clear response and feedback mechanisms.
“This can translate to delays in the flow of information and loss of valuable time to constrain a threat.”
The free Pixleforce app is now being used in India, Pakistan and Indonesia.
The TRI team used another Adelaide company, Black Sheep Advertising, to run a marketing campaign for the app through LinkedIn.
“We could target the specific audiences we wanted and predominantly worked on a range of Southeast Asia through to the Middle East,” Cuttance said.
Lo founded PixelForce in 2011 as an international student completing a Master of Design in digital media degree at the University of Adelaide.
The design company grew slowly at first, creating logos, graphic design and basic website construction, but took off in 2015 when it developed the first SWEAT mobile app for South Australian-based fitness superstar Kayla Itsines.
It has since expanded to be one of Australia’s top app design and development companies and Lo was named in the 40 Under 40 in 2019.
This year’s 40 Under 40 winners will be announced on Thursday, October 23. The full list of winners will be available on InDaily and in a special print edition of CityMag.
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