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Covid? There’s an app for that.

Rappid Design tackles the novel coronavirus

We first covered Collingwood’s Rappid Software Design, brainchild of founder David Reynolds and Sonja Hamilton, in September 2020. Since then, the software pathfinders have engineered a cure for Covid-19. Well okay, maybe they haven’t quite managed that, but they have built a novel way to keep Hollywood’s première film houses open for production and safe from infection.

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Kameo Health is a U.S. company that offers Covid-19 testing solutions for the entertainment and production industry. Even though coronavirus vaccinations are progressing rapidly in the States, there are still lots of rules (with good reason!) around Covid-19 on set. In an industry where spending a million dollars a day per show is not uncommon, the last thing they need is an outbreak.

Rappid was invited to tender on building Kameo’s flagship app, one that would enable film house administrators to keep track of coronavirus testing and status. The introduction came through a local tech entrepreneur, Peter Heinke, who sat on the Collingwood Tech Accelerator steering committee wih Reynolds. Rappid was up against some big names, but won out even though their proposal wasn’t the cheapest. “They liked the way we presented, as well as the level of detail we put into the quote,” observes Reynolds.

Rappid began development in July of 2020. The job quickly grew to be much bigger than expected. Kameo was expecting to keep track of a few thousand Covid-19 tests per month, but is currently sitting at about 75,000 across Disney, Netflix and virtually all of the bigger production houses.

How the Covid-tracking App works

The app is loaded with cast and crew, sometimes hundreds of people per production. Then parameters are set: testing requirements, job function and ‘zone’. Test lab results are batch-loaded into the app system and each cast and crewmember uses the smartphone app as a ‘passport’, flashing their Green status to get on set.

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Rappid’s app has ancillary functions, like manual Covid-19 test self-uploading/verification and vaccination status tracking. The latter transforms the app into a virtual ‘Covid passport’. Then, if cast and crewmembers get their second dose, their testing regime ratchets down from every three days to every three or four weeks.

Due to requests from U.S. schools, particularly in California, Kameo is using the app as an entrée to provision of vaccination status technology for various public-sector organizations.

Covid tracking for Canada

Coincidentally, an existing Rappid client called Chronically Simple manages a large swath of vaccination distribution in Canada. They asked Rappid to put together a vaccination module for Canada, with a view to finding a way to validate a person’s vaccination status (the word is that our ministries are only keeping track on an aggregate basis).

This app might be used to prove vaccination status in many areas of our lives, including at the doctor’s, at work, at school, etcetera. It has been presented to the federal government—it’s currently a waiting game. While a debate on the ethics of vaccination ‘passports’ rages in Canada, to the companies involved platform development, the ethical debate is almost inconsequential. Nobody knows exactly where it’s going to land, but it’s a good bet that international travel, at the least, will eventually be contingent on proof of vaccination status to some extent, especially in the U.S.

Business is up

While the pandemic has hurt many, many businesses the world over, it has been friendly to Rappid. Overall business has more than doubled, including both volume of work and also Rappid’s team. Although Rappid has actively been trying to recruit in the south Georgian Bay area for years, it has always proven difficult to find the right skillsets. Rappid has engaged personnel through Georgian College’s programs in the past, but that is not always a viable solution.

“In this last growth spurt,” says Reynolds, “the majority of our hires have come from the GTA. When you’re building an App that can make or break a company, you absolutely need top-flight, seasoned developers. So we’re importing them.” Reynolds observes that our area seems to be more focused on solo-preneurship, which is positive, but doesn’t help Rappid. He foresees that changing as our local tech cluster grows.

Putting your money where your mouth is

Since the pandemic began, Reynolds and Hamilton have decided to take a gamble on the technology their company develops. They have an investment role in a couple of companies, one of which is skillAir.com. The App puts together individuals looking for anything from a house-party bartender to a yoga instructors to a shed painter with skilled people looking to pick up a little work on the side.

Advertised as “a place where people’s skills meet people’s needs,” the App is poised to replace a hodgepodge of catch-all marketplaces like Facebook and Kijiji. Released just eight weeks ago, the App’s current test bed is in the Sea-to-Sky corridor between Vancouver and Whistler. “It’s looking promising so far,” comments Reynolds. “We have investors taking a hard look at providing a launchpad to other geographies.”