An app to protect frontline workers in the COVID19 crisis
A cross disciplinary team including UTS Law students and a recent graduate are using their legal and technology expertise to help front-line medical workers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hospitals and medical facilities around the world scrambled to secure the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for health workers.
The impact of this exponential demand led to chronic supply problems and also the introduction of new regulations dealing with trade operations and trade restrictions of PPE into and out of different countries.
A group of UTS Law students and a recent graduate have been using their legal and technical expertise to develop an app to help streamline the procurement process and keep medical professionals up to date with varying international regulations.
Leading global law firms contributed several hundred problems to the hackathon website and teams developed apps aimed at providing solutions.
UTS Law graduate, Rebecca Karpin finished her degree last year and now works in the venture capital practice at law firm, Squire Patton Boggs in Sydney.
She helped put together a cross-disciplinary team of doctors, tech experts, fellow lawyers and current UTS Law students to compete in the hackathon:
Fighting this virus requires everyone to be sharing data across borders and sharing resources because we want a worldwide solution and it requires more of a collaborative approach.
The current UTS students involved are Ethan Huang, Art Honeysett, Alex Cheng and Brae Aslanidis. Along with Rebecca, they know each other through the Law Students’ Society (LSS) and the Brennan program. They also gained valuable experience with a range of UTS Law extra-curricular opportunities including the Allens Neota Tech Challenge, the UTS and KWM #breakinglaw Hackathon and mooting and skills competitions.
Rebecca says their team saw the need for a specific tool which would help hospital and medical staff negotiate all the different international trade agreements, rules and restrictions to obtain vital medical supplies so they came up with the idea of a regulation tracker - ‘Medi-trade’:
It’s a mobile and desktop compatible tool providing accurate legal and regulatory information, solely dedicated to the trade of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers.
It’s a remarkably fluid market - during the month-long development process, the international rules and restrictions were changing on an almost daily basis so the team designed the app to be ‘self-updating’. It can track changes in real time and then update automatically.
‘Medi-trade’ can be formulated for the specific needs of a hospital or medical facility no matter where it is in the world because it is location sensitive. For example, it can tell hospital staff in Italy which countries will allow them to order PPE and which have cross-border trade restrictions which prevent access.
Rebecca says she and her legal colleagues have drawn on their range of knowledge for the project:
Law provides such a great background across so many areas. Working out what the app needed required an understanding of trade law; including free-trade agreements and country-specific regulations. Because these are changing on a daily basis it would be almost impossible to understand all the compliance requirements without legal expertise.
The team is passionate about using their legal training and knowledge to do what they can to assist front line medical workers during the COVID crisis.
It will take about 6 months to develop the full Medi-trade app and then the team hopes to attract investors to back the project.
Rebecca says they plan to approach tech companies and the whole team is excited about what might be achieved.
This app has so much potential. Beyond being a medi-tracker, it could be adapted to track financial regulation changes or AI changes across different countries – we see endless possibilities.