How the City of Oslo Used Wireless Temperature Sensors to Ensure the Quality of COVID-19 Vaccines
In January 2021, when Norway began distributing COVID-19 vaccines, a number of Norwegian municipalities faced a significant challenge: maintaining the required temperature range of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius during vaccine transport and storage. To address this challenge, they used the tiny, versatile wireless temperature sensors from Disruptive Technologies for key data insights.
Operational Challenges and Solutions in Vaccine Distribution
As Norway had no prior experience in distributing vaccines on such a large scale, maintaining the correct temperature for the vaccines during transport posed a considerable challenge. Oslo, for instance, had 100 specialized transport containers, but concerns arose about the accuracy of their cooling capabilities.
An Alternative Temperature Monitoring Approach
To address this, Oslo Origo, a digitalization unit in Oslo, explored various temperature monitoring methods. At first, a more advanced and resource-intensive method was considered, which was deemed impractical due to time constraints. A simpler method involved USB-based temperature sensors, but this lacked scalability. Ultimately, Oslo Origo chose an IoT-based temperature monitoring solution involving tiny, wireless temperature sensors.
These sensors, installed inside the containers, transmitted data to the cloud via Cloud Connector gateways. Notably, the solution also included proximity sensors on the container lids to monitor temperature changes upon opening. Early tests revealed inaccuracies in container temperature readings, leading to a new protocol of switching on the containers a day before usage.
Scaling the Solution for Wider Impact
The choice of Disruptive Technologies' sensors was based on their compact size, accuracy, long-range wireless capability, scalability, and the comprehensive DT Studio software, which featured SMS alerts and graphical data representation. This system, comprising the wireless temperature sensors, Cloud Connectors, and the DT Studio web-application, was implemented and managed by Oslo Origo.
Extending Monitoring to Distribution Sites
This initiative also extended to vaccine storage at distribution sites. With a national shortage of medical refrigerators, the city of Oslo used regular fridges, outfitting each with two wireless sensors to ensure correct temperature levels. The sensors, coupled with DT Studio, provided SMS alerts for temperature deviations and generated monthly reports for compliance.
Some refrigerators, however, consistently showed higher temperatures despite correct settings. Investigation revealed transport damage, a factor monitored by the sensors. The success of these sensors in both transport containers and refrigerators was pivotal to the quality and efficacy of the vaccine distribution, as affirmed by Harald Sundt-Ohlsen, Head of Department at the Oslo Health Agency.
Project Impact and Recognition
This project by Oslo Origo not only ensured the vaccines' integrity but also demonstrated the value of innovative technology in critical public health initiatives.