COVtest is a non-profit project. In a team with more than 30 project managers, developers, engineers, data specialists, doctors and designers, we brainstormed and designed a web-based app that aims to relieve overstressed health care systems in the Corona pandemic.
We invented, designed and advertised our idea in just one weekend, during the 60-hour Hackathon "WirVsVirus" in March 2020, initiated by the federal government of Germany.
month(s) from concept
As the Coronavirus "Covid-19" spread through China and, just a few weeks later, through Asia, Africa, Europe, America and many more continents and countries, the rapidly increasing infection rate began to overstress global health care systems drastically. Adding to the complexity of the situation is that people experience the symptoms very differently: where some people may have mild or no symptoms, others are unable survive to without proper treatment and appropriate medical care.
As a consequence of the pandemic, health care workers were at their limits, hospitals were overloaded and didn't had enough stations equipped for Covid-19 patients, producers for medical equipment weren‘t able to produce and ship requested equipment fast enough and politicians had to find and propose solutions in an increasingly escalating situation.
To help finding solutions for some of these diverse and complex problems, the federal government of Germany initiated the "WirVsVirus"-Hackathon.
One week, before the Hackathon began, citizens submitted ca. 2,000 ideas about how to handle the pandemic, and well over 40 thousand people signed up to participate in the Hackathon – and I'm happy to say that I was one of them.
While browsing the list with all the submitted ideas, I found "COVtest" and saw that they were searching for someone with design skills.
COVtest is the idea of an app that'll give users a first initial assessment about their probability of being infected with Covid-19 and recommends next steps based on the result.
The project was organised and moderated by Manuel Gollner (CEO of the "GO! Institut" in Munich), who submitted the idea. Via Zoom and Slack, the whole team got to know each other. At that time, we had a handful of very intelligent developers, machine learning experts and data specialists on board, as well as Polina Anderson, the first UX & UI Designer and my colleague in the project.
We started discovering and collecting our first ideas for the service, discussed the current challenges of "the bigger picture" & talked about the problems with other, app-based test procedures. We quickly aligned our expectations for our service and agreed on a few milestones and a key goal for COVtest.
Then we started multiple sprints in small teams, with the goal of collecting as much information as possible. We asked doctors about their experiences with patients and current questionnaires and got a lot of helpful insights. Based on that input, a team of machine learning experts and data specialists started working on the questions for our questionnaire, which should later become the center of our service and give a more exact assessments than other tests.
In the meantime, Polina and I began to work on the information architecture and the user flow of the service. In the process, we discovered a handful of possible ideas for how COVtest could continue to add value to the lives of our users after completing the questionnaire, and found ways to include them in the user flow.
In the next few sprints, we designed the first wireframes for the core features of our service. While Polina kept polishing the wireframes and designed a solid User Experience while I took responsibility for the User Interface Design and started working on the look of COVtest.
Unfortunately, we never got to experience the fully finished app.
"Team COVtest" was very motivated to work on the project, even after the official end of the main Hackathon-weekend. But as the workload for our developers just stayed consistent for multiple weeks, without much time to work on it on their end, our team began to shrink.
In the forementioned main Hackathon-phase, we achieved to finish the screen designs for our web-based app, to build a clickable prototype of the questionnaire and to created a short spot to advertise and explain the core functionality of COVtest.
The machine learning experts, data specialists and developers spent a good portion of their time & energy on the development of a local and secure database, that would save the very sensitive user informations, such as age, last travels, pre-existing illnesses and body temperature. But their flagship was a self-written AI, that would recognize cough patterns that are similar to the dry cough that Covid-19 patients have.
Manuel, our project manager, organized the workloads, interviewed and searched for specialists for our team, and worked with Theresa Tobollik on the advertising material for our idea.
Even though we didn't finished COVtest and there are now a dozen of Corona Apps in the app stores, I had a great, one-of-a-kind experience with the team and learnt a lot about time management, app development, project management and lack of sleep in just one weekend.