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Suppliers open up digital tools for coronavirus response


A number of organisations and technology suppliers have responded to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK by making digital tools freely available for the response.

Last week’s news that Microsoft was releasing its Teams collaboration and video conferencing software to the service – working with NHS Digital – attracted plenty of coverage; but initiatives have come from several other quarters over the past few days.

The Smart Cities Council has pushed out its 2020 Covid-19 Mitigation Roadmap, an online tool that sits on its Smart Cities Activator Platform and includes guidelines for organising a response to the pandemic.

It includes steps on assembling a team, a framework for planning, taking account of risks, finding appropriate tools, funding, getting help from the council and recording lessons learned. It is available to anyone in a ‘read only’ version but if an authority wants to use it as a template in developing a plan it can register for a free account.

Patient record

Electronic patient record software provider PatientSource has offered a slimmed down version of its system to healthcare organisations free of charge, with what it describes as “minimal” cloud hosting costs.

It said the software can be installed inside an hour to keep a “digital eye” over the increasing number of coronavirus patients, including a cloud based electronic observation module with patient trackers and ward whiteboard tools.

Healthcare messaging network Siilo has made its crisis management functionality free to all health and care professionals in the UK. This has been widely adopted in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Ireland, and is being used to create and coordinate crisis messaging groups, centrally broadcast important and time-sensitive messages, and build peer networks with specialists and department heads.

In addition, it can be used to mobilise people by sending out an email, customised link or QR codes to join a secure group.

The company said it has extended its working hours to keep up with demand.


Digital identity specialist Yoti has made its services free for three months to any public organisation, emergency service or community initiative working to tackle the crisis. It said the solution can help to authenticate staff, suppliers or volunteers in a secure and scalable manner, and can help users set up.

It can be contacted through its website.

In a different approach, low code application specialist OutSystems has announced a community based app development programme to combat coronavirus through the use of its development platform. The programme provides free access to the company’s enterprise level software.

Any community member can submit an idea, which then goes through a selection process for up to 20 to be selected for development.

OutSytems said that in the first 24 hours after it was launched more than 100 ideas for digital apps had been submitted, including medical equipment tracking, a hand washing game, food delivery facilitation, pharmacy volunteer scheduling and chatbots for virus FAQs.

Image from Sergio Santos,, CC BY 2.0


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