When some of the Norwegian municipalities faced challenges keeping the required temperature level for the Covid-19 vaccines during transport and storage, they used tiny, versatile sensors from Disruptive Technologies to get the insights they needed.
In January 2021, the first Covid-19 vaccines became available for distribution to the general public in Norway. This presented an apparent operational challenge for many national and local authorities, as they didn’t have experience distributing vaccines on such a substantial scale.
Covid-19 vaccine storage requirements mandated that the vaccines should be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, conditions which also applied during transportation. The city of Oslo had 100 transport containers available specifically for this purpose.
When reports from several municipalities questioned the accuracy of the containers' cooling function, the Oslo Agency of Health reached out to Oslo Origo to discuss their suspected challenge with their medical transport containers. Oslo Origo, a digitalization unit under the city of Oslo, was working on several Covid-19-related projects, like the digital system, to distribute vaccines to the general public.
Testing transport containers equipped with DT sensor
Oslo Origo considered several ways of going about this. At first, they thought of applying an advanced method of measuring the temperature of containers, both during their transport and storage. However, designing and testing this method required significant resources; at this point, time was of the essence.
They could alternatively use an offline method by placing USB-based temperature sensors next to the vaccines. Still, this method was not scalable since the data from each container would be stored on individual USB keys. Resulting in Oslo Origo choosing an IoT-based solution that consisted of placing tiny wireless temperature and proximity sensors in the transport containers.
Oslo Origo placed the tiny wireless temperature sensors from Disruptive Technologies (DT) in the containers, which collected and transferred data to the cloud software through a gateway (DT Cloud Connector). They placed sensors in several places inside the container, including a proximity sensor placed on the lid to see how the temperature was affected when opening the container. Confirming their suspicions, during the first 30 minutes, DT wireless sensors proved the containers were displaying inaccurate data. With this observation, a new routine was implemented, simply turning on the containers the day before they were being used.
The DT wireless temperature sensors were selected due to:
The solution consisted of DT Temperature sensors, DT Cloud Connectors, and the DT Studio cloud software, and it was installed and managed by Oslo Origo.The sensors from DT enabled the City of Oslo to implement critical surveillance of the Covid19-vaccine immediately, all the way from the main storage facility to the various districts within the municipality. As time was of the essence, we valued the readiness and quality of the whole product chain, from sensors to the cloud solution/alarm notification system, dashboard solution, and especially the important support from the whole DT team, from CTO to support staff.
Fred Grønnerød, special advisor, Oslo Origo / City of Oslo
This project led Oslo Origo to another related project: keeping the vaccines at the ideal temperature at the distribution sites.
Norwegian municipalities were being pressured by the government to urgently secure medical storage refrigerators, a challenging task as the demand for medical refrigerators had drastically increased due to the pandemic.
As the general availability of medical cold storage cabinets was scarce, the city of Oslo deployed regular refrigerators. To ensure the vaccines were stored at the correct temperature level, they needed reliable sensors to verify and document the temperature of each refrigerator and send out alerts if and when deviations occurred.
Two of the refrigerators are equipped with the DT sensor.
Oslo Origo placed two DT wireless temperature sensors inside each refrigerator, one near the bottom and one near the top of the cabinet. They also had a DT wireless proximity sensor to get an overview of the door activity. DT Studio was tailored to send notifications by SMS when the temperature dropped below 2 degrees or above 8, 10, and 12 degrees Celsius. In addition, setting a time delay of 15 minutes on the notifications for the 8-degree threshold was making the system less reactive to minor temperature fluctuations. They also generated reports from each sensor once a month to document the temperature trend and ensure compliance.
Some of the refrigerators sent notifications immediately after the vaccines were placed, keeping a stable but too-high temperature, even though they had been set to the correct temperature level. By examining the cabinets, Oslo Origo employees found marks on the sides, indicating that the refrigerators had suffered some damage during transport.
Screenshot from the DT Studio software, showing the Project Dashboard of a fridge
Screenshot from the DT Studio software, showing the notifications
The DT wireless temperature sensors were used for the duration of the Covid-19 vaccination program, and the city of Oslo was elated with the solution.This project was very important to the success of the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines, and the solution from Oslo Origo has significantly reduced the risk of decreasing vaccine quality during transport and storage.
Harald Sundt-Ohlsen, Head of Department, Oslo Agency for Health / City of Oslo
The sensors were able to detect the challenges of the transport containers and the refrigerators and were of great value to the city of Oslo.
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