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NMU helps with a faster screening system

NELSON Mandela University’s Centre for Community Technologies (CCT), has helped with the roll out of a faster solution regarding the screening of hundreds of learners that returned to school this week.

According to a statement, released by the university, concerns had been raised about adequate healthcare and the spread of Covid-19 after Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, announced last week that Grades 7 and 12 learners were to return to school on Monday, June 8.

The statement reads that mandatory health screening and listing of everyone entering the school premises are required.

As a result, a huge congestion was expected with hundreds of learners entering schools.

Since few schools have adequate capacity to thoroughly screen and upload the records and status of every learner who enters the school premises, Nelson Mandela University (NMU), has partnered with engineers at the faculty of engineering of the North-West University (NWU), who designed a sustainable solution to do this screening in a reliable manner.

The CCT became involved by assisting with the preparation of the training material and multimedia for the app.

“As part of the collaboration, CCT took over the custodianship of the app,” the statement read.

According to project leader and specialist in health-related engineering innovations at NWU, Prof Leenta Grobler, their solution involves the digitalisation of the screening and data-capturing process.

A screening and data-recording system, TjopTjop, has been developed that requires that every person authorised to enter a particular property, be issued with an identification token.

Under the system, all points of entry are equipped with a recording station, which comprises only an Android cellphone and a digital thermometer.

The appointed official at the school or business responsible for monitoring the Covid-19 screening compliance, can access the data of a specific site through a web portal.

“This system will ensure that significant time is saved for the education and business sectors and may have a radical impact on lockdown screening protocols,” Grobler said.

“Data capturing at screening points will be done using QR codes, IDs in the case of adults and identification tokens and commercial off-the-shelf infrared digital thermometers, with the data being gathered by a standard entry-level smart cellphone.”

An Excel-format list will be created for every school, containing every authorised person’s ID number, name and designation (grade and class, teacher, parent or department) and an emergency contact number.

This information will be encoded by the NWU’s engineering team as a QR code and printed on an ID card, which will be provided to every learner.

Grobler explained that once a learner reached the screening point, the cellphone application provided the operator with four submenus: identification, temperature capturing, mask verification and health risk assessment.

“Identification uses an image stream to read the QR code printed on the ID card.

“Temperature capturing utilises image processing of the seven-segment display of the commercial off-the-shelf infrared digital thermometer and finally, a log is kept of whether a person reporting at the screening point has been issued with a mask or whether they are wearing their own.

“Health risk assessment entails recording the answers to the standardised risk assessment questions provided by the Department of Health” she added.

Once the record has been verified, the ID number, without the name or contact details, is stored in a database, along with the temperature data and mask status.

In the event of a temperature being outside the “normal” limits, a warning message will be displayed on the phone and it will be sent to the institution’s health and safety representative.

The institution can view this data in real time on a web portal.

CCT director, Prof Darelle van Greunen, said that this solution would enable schools, universities and businesses to adhere to the necessary healthcare requirements for the return of their students and workforce.

“At NMU, we strive to change the world and the opportunity to once again work with the NWU provides not only unique solutions but creates good opportunities to showcase South African innovation.”

The CCT will be responsible for the roll-out in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape. Anyone interested may contact Van Greunen at Darelle.vanGreunen@mandela.ac.za or 082 5642 356. For all other regions Grobler can be contacted on contact@tjoptjop.info or 082 878 5894.

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