Covid-19 early warning system for frontline medical staff unveiled

14 Apr 2020

Image: © herraez/

A Cork team has developed a Covid-19 early warning system for frontline medical staff using sensors and IoT.

As those who are most likely to come into close physical contact with Covid-19 patients, frontline medical staff are among the most vulnerable members of our society at the moment.

To help limit the spread of the disease among healthcare workers, an early warning system has been developed through a software industry and healthcare partnership with University College Cork (UCC). The Covid-19 Remote Early Warning System (CREW) can help identify medical staff who might be developing a temperature, one of the symptoms of the disease.

The system includes a wearable thermometer sensor that measures body temperature, a smartphone or smartwatch running the CREW app, and a cloud server that monitors data and sounds the alarm if temperature thresholds are breached. If CREW identifies a healthcare worker who may have Covid-19, they can then be pulled away from their duties for testing or treatment.

CREW was developed in partnership between the College of Medicine and Health at UCC, Cork-based software consultancy 8 West, UCC’s Assert centre and the Tyndall National Institute.

The CREW devices and analytics system.

Image: UCC

Initial trials

Trials of the system began on 3 April, with five volunteers wearing underarm thermometers connected to smart phones, sending temperature readings to the monitoring platform on an hourly basis.

Initial results produced accurate temperature data, the developers said, with more volunteers set to trial the system to test its accuracy over a longer period of time. While initially developed for iOS and Android devices, it will come to other operating systems soon.

Speaking of its potential use, Dr Patrick Henn, director of research and education at Assert, said: “10 to 25pc of all diagnosed cases of the coronavirus are among the healthcare community working to halt the spread of the disease.

“The single common variable in all cases of the Covid-19 virus is a rise in body temperature. CREW is a quarantine management platform that will hopefully allow us identify healthcare staff remotely who may be developing a temperature, that may be an early sign of Covid-19, and who therefore should not present to work.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic