Change the world


TjopTjop, a new app designed by two South African universities will soon be rolled out to assist schools and businesses to do a faster screening at entrance points and keep accurate digital records. 

A collaboration between Nelson Mandela and North-West universities will soon see a smartphone app rolled out to schools to digitise health screening and attendance records of pupils and provide alerts about possible coronavirus cases in real-time to health and safety representatives. 

Professor Darelle van Greunen from the Centre for Community Technologies at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth said the app will assist schools, universities and even businesses to adhere to safety regulations for the safe return of pupils and the workforce in lockdown Level 3. 

TjopTjop, as the app has been named, is the brainchild of engineers at the North-West University’s Faculty of Engineering in partnership with NMU’s Centre for Community Technologies. 

The app creates a digital record at different screening points for temperature readings, mask verification and health screening. It works on most smartphones and also interacts with most standard infra-red thermometers to read the person’s temperature. 

Van Greunen said the app was designed to prevent congestion at entry points to schools, universities and businesses. 

“This solution will enable schools, universities and businesses to adhere to the necessary healthcare requirements for the return of their students and workforce.” 

The centre will roll out the app in Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. 

Professor Leenta Grobler, project leader and specialist in health-related engineering innovations at NWU, explained that once a learner reaches the screening point, the app provides the operator with four sub-menus: identification, temperature capturing, mask verification and a health risk assessment. 

“Identification uses an image stream to read the QR code printed on the ID card. Temperature capturing utilises image processing of the seven-segment display of the commercial off-the-shelf infrared digital thermometer, and finally, a log is kept of whether a person reporting at the screening point has been issued with a mask or whether they are wearing their own. Health risk assessment finally entails recording the answers to the standardised risk assessment questions provided by the Department of Health.”  

Grobler explained that once the record has been verified, the identification number, without the name or contact details, is stored in a cloud-based database, along with the temperature data and mask status. 

“In the event of a temperature that is outside the band considered to be within normal limits, a warning message will be displayed on the phone and it will be sent to the institution’s health and safety representative. The institution can view this data in real-time on a web portal.”  

Grobler says they have completed the pilot project of the system at several Potchefstroom-based schools and are now partnering with universities and the private sector to license the solution and roll-out. 

“We as engineers strive to change the world for the better, and slowly but surely we are getting there – one innovative idea at a time,” she said. DM/MC

This article appeared in The Daily Maverick (Maverick Citizen) on 4 June 2020, written by Estelle Ellis.

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