Johannesburg based Beyond Wireless has developed a simple, user-friendly solution to the global challenge of monitoring the vaccine cold chain.
Called ColdCloud, its creators believe it could help to prevent millions of deaths in the developing world. It is currently in use in 54 countries across five continents. Locally, Beyond Wireless aims to align South Africa’s pharmaceutical industry with international best practice.
According to the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), rolling out childhood immunisations against Hib, pneumococcal and rotavirus diseases in the world’s 73 poorest countries over the next decade will result in an estimated $63 billion in treatment and productivity savings and avert 3.7 million deaths. The challenge, however, is that these countries are often ill equipped to transport, store and distribute vaccines.
Governments around the world are focusing on legislation that aligns their pharmaceutical industries with international best practice, which includes requiring constant temperature monitoring at every leg of the cold chain.
Beyond Wireless founder and CEO, Ian Lester, explains that this is because vaccines must be stored between 2 and 8˚ C. “Temperature excursions outside of this band can reduce and even destroy the effectiveness of vaccines,” he says. “Imagine – you think you’ve immunised your child against pneumococcal disease, but because the vaccine has got too hot or too cold, it’s actually ineffective. It’s a scary thought, but a reality in many poor regions. Even if people have access to vaccines, which is a challenge in itself, are those vaccines effective in combating disease?”
Lester, along with his clients like the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, believes that improving immunisation is thus a catalyst to solving broader issues, from healthcare through to poverty.
“Ideally, consumers and patients should be able to request proof of compliance from clinics, doctors’ rooms, pharmacies and other medical suppliers to show that vaccines have remained within the required temperature band,” says Lester. “This would significantly boost the efficacy of immunisation efforts.”
Fixing vaccine cold chain
Global best practice suggests automatic temperature monitoring of vaccine and other temperature-sensitive drugs as the best option for maintaining the cold chain, yet many countries in the developing world still lag behind in this regard, which is where Beyond Wireless believes ColdCloud can assist.
“Across the entire length of the cold chain, but especially at the last mile, it’s extremely difficult to ensure that the vaccine cold chain is properly maintained,” Lester says. “If for instance your power goes off in the middle of the night or if a door is accidentally left open, you’re not going to know whether the vaccine in the fridge has gone outside of its temperature range or not. Our GSM enabled remote temperature monitoring device, the ice, is battery operated (with a battery that lasts for five years without the need to recharge to replace it), so it doesn’t require any external power source and is therefore completely immune to damage from power surge. This is a major advantage in the developing world where power can be both unreliable and dirty. The ice device sits in the fridge and monitors power supply, door position and temperature, and escalates alarms via email, sms and via a smart-phone app when anything goes wrong.”
The Beyond Wireless real time temperature monitoring solution is also accessible from any standard browser or smart device with an internet connection. “If you’re working for a health NGO that has vaccine fridges in far-flung locations around the world, you can pull out your phone or tablet wherever you are, log in, and check on the status of every fridge being monitored, as well as pulling up historical data, which allows you to see trends and make informed decisions. I truly believe that by improving the monitoring and control of vaccine cold chains in vaccine distribution points around the world, we can save millions of lives, as well as improving the health and economies of entire societies.”
The ColdCloud solution offers two devices, ice and ice EXTRA, both are WHO PQS and ISO 9001:2008 certified. Beyond Wireless has recently begun to partner with OEMs to supply fridges with the ice and ice EXTRA already installed, thus simplifying access to effective remote cold chain monitoring even further.
Now download a bank account
Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.
This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.
“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.
“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”
The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:
- Download the Absa App
- Choose the account you would like to open
- Tell us who you are
- To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
- Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
- Tell us where you live
- Let us know what you do for a living and your income
- Click Apply.
How we use phones to avoid human contact
A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.
Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances.
Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?
The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.
In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.
Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.
Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”
To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:
· I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?
With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.
· Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?
Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.
· I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.