DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas and Juvare, a leader in critical incident preparedness and response technology, are collaborating to commercialize a cloud-based computer program to help ensure the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
A team of UNT researchers developed the program called RE-PLAN, which is unlike anything currently in use, to help state and local public health agencies distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure its timely availability to all community members according to each state's guidelines. The new collaboration provides health agencies the opportunity to readily acquire and access RE-PLAN as vaccines become available for the general population.
RE-PLAN pulls data from a variety of sources to help public health agencies create response plans for public health emergencies. Challenges addressed by the system include determining locations where medications or vaccines can be distributed and identifying vulnerable and at-risk populations to minimize access disparities associated with:
- Lack of access to transportation
- Need for translators
- Special needs related to disabilities
- Uninsured populations
In addition, unlike current programs in use by response agencies that rely on complex Geographic Information Systems, RE-PLAN can be accessed on a simple laptop and employees with basic computer knowledge can be trained quickly to utilize the program. Agencies have the option to either start a plan from scratch, a process that could take under an hour with the program or start from their existing emergency plans.
"It's all about helping public health departments understand where they need to put resources and how many resources they need," said Marty O'Neill, director of UNT's Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis. "These decisions must be made with respect to the specific needs of the populations they're serving."
"We are proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with UNT on bringing RE-PLAN to the market," said Bryan Kaplan, Chief Information Officer at Juvare. "This technology provides the missing link public health agencies need to ensure that all populations have access to the COVID-19 vaccine."
The RE-PLAN system was originally designed at UNT to create emergency response plans for bioterrorism events involving anthrax or smallpox. When COVID-19 started spreading across the world in early 2020, O'Neill led a team of researchers to adapt RE-PLAN to focus on decision support for COVID-19 mass vaccination planning.
"We built RE-PLAN to solve a lot of the challenging problems involved in this type of emergency response planning," O'Neill said. "We have worked to make the system as flexible as possible knowing that jurisdictions will need to quickly adapt their plans to meet the needs of their communities.
Juvare is a worldwide leader in emergency preparedness and critical incident management and response technology. Juvare solutions empower government agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, academic institutions and volunteer organizations to leverage real-time data to manage incidents faster and more efficiently, protecting people, property and brands. For more information, visit www.juvare.com.