WelTec Robotics Tutor Creates Real-time Map of PPE demand across New Zealand

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As part of his volunteer work for ShieldsUp, an organisation established at the start of lockdown which called on volunteers to 3D print personal protective equipment (PPE) to fill the shortage gap, WelTec tutor Frank Beinersdorf has developed a real-time map of how many, and where, protective shields are needed across New Zealand.

Frank’s map is what Shieldsup uses to determine how many shields need to be made, and provides information to the many volunteers tasked with delivering the equipment. 

Using various icons, the map displays priority of orders, what orders are ready to go or are on the way, and a heat map of what is still needed. There is also a visual chart to demonstrate demand over time and a chart tracking COVID cases in New Zealand. The map and information can be found here: https://beinerf.github.io/

“Frank’s work became invaluable as we grew beyond lists and text,” says Tim Carr, ShieldsUp founder.  “What he did in regard to visualising a rapidly growing data set has allowed us to see where resources were needed and demand was growing.” 

ShieldsUp is a community-driven initiative, conceived from the outcry of medical and emergency responders facing COVID-19 head-on, as they put their own health at risk in their jobs to help protect others, often without the personal protective equipment they so desperately needed. 

As well as providing information on numbers and location of PPE required, Frank has also converted the data into useful quick facts, kept up to date real-time. For example, on Tuesday, May 5th, nearly 18, 000 shields were still needed,  22 242 were wanted and 16, 414 had been made and delivered by 254 volunteers across New Zealand. 

In the spirit of community from which ShieldsUp was created, Frank included fun facts in his data visualization, such as: if we stacked all the shields what height they would reach - almost as high as the Sky Tower in Auckland, and: if one person would have attempted this job with one average 3D printer running 24/7, it would have taken 782 days and 3 hours. 

Pacific Health Plus Medical Centre Porirua2

Frank used his own 3D printer, and one of WelTec’s, to contribute to the stock for ShieldsUp. As part of this, Frank created and delivered 21 shields for Pacific Health Plus in Porirua, a health service caring for vulnerable patients in the needy suburb of Cannons Creek. Two WelTec students also helped out manufacturing on their own printers. 

Frank has done this work with the support of Malcolm Fair, Programme Manager at WelTec’s School of Construction & Engineering. 

“WelTec can be proud of having a small part in this effort. By putting his skills to work and using his creative thinking and kindness, Frank has really assisted this very important cause by providing real-time maps and charts of demand, delivery status and other information to the community,” says Malcolm. “Although a crisis, it's wonderful to see how communities can pull together like this.” 

Since launching in late March ShieldsUp has received more than 16,000 requests for face shields from healthcare workers across New Zealand and that number continues to grow daily. These include GPs, after-hours medical clinics, pharmacies, community health workers as well as many others. 

“We are continuing to see high demand for face shields within the health sector, which we are now assessing alongside new requests from other industries as they consider how they can protect their staff as workplaces look to re-open under alert level three,” says Tim.