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After the long wait for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, millions of Americans found themselves struggling to schedule appointments at vaccination centers coping with dwindling supplies and mounting frustrations.
One Austin-based Oracle engineer was frustrated by this utterly predictable problem. Inspired by a fellow Texan he saw on TV, Kurt Bringsjord decided to offer an assist in inoculating their community against the deadly virus.
Bringsjord realized his team, and the Oracle resources they had behind them, could lend the missing pieces needed to effectively crowdsource data that would empower the public with timely, accurate and actionable information about where to get a potentially life-saving shot in the arm.
That effort, taking advantage of Oracle’s APEX low-code application development environment, is now helping people across the country get vaccinated—and put the pandemic behind us once and for all.
In mid-January, Bringsjord caught Carri Craver, a self-taught, no-code developer with a penchant for community service, talking about her crowdsourcing project, Find Vaccine TX, on a local news broadcast. Craver launched the project after seeing her father struggle to find a facility with available doses.
The Oracle employee contacted Craver to offer help in upgrading the site’s data model and accelerating the addition of essential features. Using APEX, Bringsjord was confident he could rapidly and securely deliver a better solution.
The problems were clear: there was no way to assess state vaccine inventories, or that of individual providers. And small vaccine distribution centers were inundated with calls from the public—far more than they could answer.
“Many of the mom-and-pop providers that Texas gave vaccines to do not have ability to handle a thousand calls a day,” Bringsjord said.
As some distribution facilities had to turn people away, others were well-stocked, but couldn’t find enough people to give shots to.
Craver’s epiphany to crowdsource the relevant data could solve that supply-and-demand problem; the site would let people know which facilities, from small pharmacies to massive public distribution centers, had open slots, were doing same-day appointments or accepting walk-ins.
As a senior cloud strategist on Oracle’s Innovation and Strategy Development team, Bringsjord knows how to quickly deliver a prototype using APEX.
With the support of Stephanie Trunzo, GVP Strategy & Transformation, and an Oracle APEX team led by Scott Spendolini, within three days an APEX-powered application was ready.
For the next two weeks, the Oracle volunteers worked tirelessly with Craver to expand the application from Texas to the entire United States. They created a volunteer portal and gathered information on vaccine distribution locations in every U.S. state, either scraping that data online or directly reaching out to public health organizations, in preparation to upgrade the site from a Texas-focused resource to a tool usable by anyone in the United States.
The site Craver built had already fielded tens of thousands of daily page views. The Oracle team ensured it would continue to operate seamlessly as that number skyrocketed with the switch over to the APEX version and the relaunch of the site as Find Vaccine USA.
Eventually, Boston Children’s Hospital, in conjunction with the CDC and other organizations, incorporated COVID-19 vaccine information into a nearly identical site. Craver, thinking it would be best to have a single source of truth for vaccine seekers, decided to link to that site from FindVaccineUSA.
Now, most Americans looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine can punch in their zip code and find up-to-the-minute information based on aggregated reports.
Bringsjord said his effort wouldn’t have been possible without support from across Oracle; his organization immediately allowed him to prioritize his time to focus on the project, more than 30 Oracle employees volunteered, including members of the APEX development teams who worked after hours and Oracle’s Diversity and Inclusion team, which added public outreach and translation services. The project is even taking advantage of Oracle Cloud credits donated to COVID-19 projects.
That cross-Oracle effort highlights the true spirit of digital transformation—delivering technology that achieves important results through creative development models, Bringsjord said.
“It’s incredible for such a big company like this to have a startup mentality,” he said.
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