Responding to COVID-19 With Rapid Application Development in the Public Sector

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is coming in waves, and the public is rapidly and continually adjusting to new ways of life. Because of that, the public sector must also rapidly develop new ways to respond to the crisis.

Both the government and education sectors are already choosing Mendix to help them improve operational efficiency and citizen engagement by building innovative solutions, including in response to the pandemic. Cities keep moving, officials keep working, citizens’ lives keep going. The pandemic only deepened and created new needs requiring fast, effective solutions. These methodologies can apply to public sector projects now and in the future.

Digitizing Citizen-Facing Services

The municipality of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, had a huge problem. Lockdown measures during the pandemic prevented new parents from physically accessing city facilities to register the birth of their child. City officers seeing parents and newborns is a legal requirement to register the birth, and lockdowns affecting public buildings made that impossible. Officials in Rotterdam recognized that this needed an immediate fix.

The City of Rotterdam has been using the Mendix platform for years, and the speed and flexibility of low-code offered an opportunity to get a solution built quickly. The result was the Digital Desk tool, which allowed the municipality to digitize its birth registration process.

The Digital Desk integrates a video with identity services, payments, and secure file exchange with the municipality. Plus, Rotterdam residents don’t need to install software or create accounts, making it a smooth process. Thousands of video calls have been made, and more than 450 civil servants can connect from any location. The Digital Desk has hugely benefited Rotterdam, allowed citizens to fulfill their requirements, and even received a nomination in the Digital Innovation category for the Computable Awards 2021.

The Digital Desk is one of several other successful projects in Rotterdam during the coronavirus crisis. Erik van der Steen, RAD (Rapid App Development) Coordinator in the Software Development department for Rotterdam, related that “For a lot of my colleagues and me, this is why we work for the government. In this crisis, we’re doing extra effort that means something to people.”

Helping Non-Native Speakers Understand Protocols

The Flemish Civic Integration Agency keeps Belgian residents updated on coronavirus measures and vaccination procedures. That includes releasing updates first in Belgium’s three official languages of Dutch, French, and German, followed by translated versions as quickly as possible.

However, changes were happening so quickly that measures changed before the previous translations were available. In addition, citizens relied on inaccurate translations from non-official sources, such as Google Translate, to close the gap. This led to a scenario where both the local government and non-native speakers constantly struggled to keep up.

The Agency partnered with Apvine, a Mendix solutions partner, to build a solution on the Mendix platform. After just eight weeks, the result was the Crisis Information Translated application.

The main output of the app is the immediate translation of crucial information into more than 18 languages. Those translations are then proofread and approved, resulting in no delay for non-native speakers in getting this information.

Crisis Information Translated is a critical piece of the Flemish infrastructure and is receiving praise from doctors, pharmacists, and vaccination coordinators using the app to help communicate with patients. Matthias D’eigens, program manager at the Agency, emphasized, “That’s why low-code is so fantastic. Even less technically-trained people can contribute and easily keep track of the project’s progress.”

Keeping Supplies Safe

COVID-19 vaccines need to stay cold to retain efficacy. This presents several challenges. To combat that, the Uruguayan government partnered with AntTail, a Mendix technology services provider specializing in cold-chain logistics for medical and perishable supplies. Together, they developed a data-tracking solution to keep Uruguay’s COVID-19 vaccination program safe using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.

With their new solution, the Uruguayan government can store, transport, and distribute their vaccines safely, facilitating rapid vaccination throughout the population. Nienke Faber, Customer Success Manager at Mendix, explained that “The application provides true transparency by making data easily accessible to the government and the people of Uruguay. By leveraging the Mendix low-code platform, AntTail has brought an innovative solution to the Covid-19 pandemic that benefits millions of people.”

Tracking Side Effects

The University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU) helps to support coronavirus research within the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Using the Mendix platform, the UMCU has built its Research Online Platform application.

The Research Online Platform is a flexible workflow-driven questionnaire designed to document potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccinations. The app is used in 45 countries by 6,500 users (including researchers, research nurses, and monitors) and will handle approximately 400,000 forms per year from over 350,000 different subjects. This data is collected in a secure cloud environment that meets applicable laws and regulations and will be central to long-term, large-scale studies for years to come.

“Without wanting to shortchange other systems or institutions, I think the Research Online Platform is the most suitable platform to conduct this research, both in terms of scalability, flexibility, and compliance,” says Joost Schotsman, Head of Data Management, Project Support and Monitoring at the UMCU. “Because there was some urgency in the EMA’s request, we are very pleased with the help and involvement we received from the experts at Mendix. This collaboration enabled us to act quickly, without making concessions on the usability and the reliability of the research results.”

Building Innovative Solutions to Benefit Millions of People

How is your public sector organization responding to the pandemic? Low-code development and the benefits it offers are changing how organizations in the public sector build applications. More and more organizations are choosing Mendix to build first-rate solutions benefitting millions of people.

Organizations choose Mendix because it’s easy to use and gets their solutions deployed quicker. In crises, Mendix allows organizations to focus their precious time on building impactful solutions rather than planning. COTS solutions may seem like the path of least resistance, but customizations and unforeseen integration problems often end up causing more problems than they solve. A Mendix solution can work with your existing systems and get your solution to your market faster.

Learn more about how the Mendix platform can help you rapidly improve operational efficiency and citizen engagement. Create the solutions your citizens need more quickly than you thought was possible.

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