With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines under way across Canada, one of the first questions people ask is, “Where can I get my vaccine?”
Brock Lumbard, a member of Western’s Class of 2021, graduating with a dual-degree in software engineering and business, realized that people needed easy-to-access information on how to locate and book at local clinics while finishing his last year of studies remotely from his home in Regina.
In just 48 hours, Lumbard had developed a software program that allows Saskatchewan residents to text their postal code to a phone number to receive a list of the nearest clinics and available appointments.
With his combined business and software background, Lumbard was able to recognize the need for a solution and utilize the appropriate technical skills to bring the tool to life.
He was inspired by two Toronto-based entrepreneurs who created a similar tool that’s currently available only in Ontario.
“My focus on Saskatchewan alone has allowed me to do a really detailed job of the province,” Lumbard said. “I’m able to provide consumers with eligibility information, availability of appointments at clinics, and wait times at drive-through centres.”
Saskatchewan has several outlets for vaccine rollout information, Lumbard explained. By combining those resources into one data source, the texting tool makes the process easier for users, especially those who are not tech-savvy or lack computer or wi-fi access.
“There is a lot of data out there and a lot of people who have accessibility needs,” Lumbard said. “This tool is the simplest medium to get COVID vaccine information across.”
When he launched his texting tool, he received an influx of support on Twitter, which led to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe offering to cover his service costs for the tool.
“I think that’s been the best part of this,” Lumbard said. “Having the support of the Saskatchewan people behind a positive initiative is fantastic, and having the provincial government not only embrace it but support it is even better.”
As the tool approaches its 10,000th text, Lumbard looks forward to opportunities for expansion and collaboration with other provinces.