Valcon develops data platform for Covid-19 vaccination roll-out

01 April 2022 4 min. read

Valcon has supported the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands with the development of a data platform that facilitates the distribution and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations.

On January 6th 2021, the first Covid-19 vaccine shot was administered in the Netherlands. Shortly before that, the Logistics Coordination Centre (LCC) of the RIVM was set up. This is the beating logistical heart of the National Immunization Programme. Delivery, quality control, distribution over vaccination locations and planning are among the core tasks of the centre.

The Logistics Coordination Centre coordinates the entire supply chain of the roll-out, from storage of the vaccine to the disbursement of the vaccine.

From Excel to a scalable and secure solution

This logistical operation was partly supported by the Ministry of Defence. Vaccination orders from various suppliers were delivered daily and stocked in cold stores. In addition to the incoming flow, there was also an outgoing flow to the various vaccination locations.

When dispensing, the storage time of the vaccine outside the refrigeration units should be monitored as each vaccine has its own characteristics and storage requirements. The vaccine was also very scarce, and it had to be used as efficiently as possible without creating a surplus at a location.

As a result, it was a massive and complex job to draw up and keep pace with the planning. This planning was initially based on manual output from the registration system and required subsequent manual data entry in Excel – a time-consuming and error-prone process.

In January 2021, the Logistics Coordination Centre asked Valcon and Delta-N to support with professionalising this process. The two companies were selected for their proven track record and experience gained at the National Consortium for Medical Aids (LCH) and the National Coordination Centre for Intensive Care Patient Distribution.

The project kicked off with the development of a mock-up PowerBI dashboard based on test data. A period of three weeks was agreed for this. The purpose of this assignment was to present the possibilities of the different insights to the programme management of the RIVM (on behalf of the director of the National Immunization Programme).

The goal was to expedite the planning process and provide more accurate insights into the logistics process. However, with Covid-19 developments unfolding rapidly, the need for correct and accurate insights became so important that the deadline of three weeks was shortened to just one week.

At the end of the first week, a first version of the mock-up dashboard was presented to the programme management. Several demands were discussed and eventually the management asked if they could use the dashboard in their consultation with the Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport.

An accelerated build & launch

The RIVM, Valcon and Delta-N team did not hesitate for a minute; pizzas were ordered, exemptions for travel curfews (at that time applicable) were arranged and the team commenced on their – very strategic – challenge. Following a ‘pressure-cooker’ week, the deadline was met – a result the team can still pride itself on.

The planned activities to roll out a solid Microsoft Azure Data Platform were immediately moved up in the project schedule. Various lines and processes were started within RIVM to clear the way for the implementation of the platform.

As Microsoft Azure Cloud solutions was relatively new for RIVM, focus was also given on building ‘buy-in’. In collaboration with Microsoft (Chief Information Security Officer and architects), several sessions were held with the RIVM team to jointly agree on a scalable and secure solution to implement going forward.

The development team, a team of employees from Valcon and Delta-N, developed the Microsoft Azure Data Platform solution in collaboration with colleagues from RIVM. Various sources have been made available through the platform and various PowerBI dashboards have been delivered.

Insights for decision-makers and politicians

The added value of a Microsoft Azure Data Platform for the Logistics Coordination Centre has proven itself – it guided the decisions at a national and local level, and even provided guidance to parliamentary debates and questions. The PowerBI dashboards also supported the planning department with the necessary insights to be able to plan more efficiently and accurately.

The project was staffed by several Valcon consultants, including Roy Thomassen, Carl Laudy, Marjon Meulmeester, Thomas Kamerling, Jurren Pen, Marijn Kroes, Michiel Heijl, and Twan van Rossum.

“The strength of the collaboration between Microsoft, RIVM, Valcon and Delta-N has contributed to the fight against the Covid-19 virus and served a social purpose. We proud to have been able to contribute to this,” staed Valcon’s project manager on the engagement.

The project has been nominated for the Microsoft Partner of the Year 2022 award.