In January 2021, U.S. President Biden issued an Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers as part of the administration’s earlier announced goals to have most schools open by the end of April. A key element to a successful school reopening program is tracking infection rates in the classroom and team sports, however, it had become a daunting task as most K-12 and colleges were not equipped to manage large-scale COVID-19 testing and contract tracing activities.
As a son of educators and a father of twins, Noel Hara, NTT DATA’s Public Sector CTO had first-hand knowledge that students needed to be in the classroom not only for learning but for their mental health. Noel used his technology know-how and position to lead the strategic development and creation of partnerships to introduce a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing application -- Smart Back-to-School application (SB2S). SB2S is a HIPAA-compliant, responsive web application built natively on Amazon Web Services (AWS) that offers advanced reporting capabilities to help schools manage their safe reopening programs. The application also provides tools to get student athletes back to practice and into competition. Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus launched NTT DATA’s SB2S and successfully navigated a Covid-19 re-opening. In fact, it was so successful, that the American Association of State Colleges and Universities awarded the University the 2021 Excellence and Innovation Award for Campus Pandemic Response..
Public Service is often thought of as contributing to something greater than oneself to the betterment of society. At times this involves commitment, dedication, and often sacrifice to achieve the desired outcome. In developing this application that involved many long hours developing strategies, examining variables and countless calls with educators to discuss challenges and solutions. In Noel’s case, his dedication was nothing short of super-hero. He did all of the aforementioned in the midst of a personal health crisis that involved treatments every other Friday. He never missed a beat and his work helped students get back to where they belong, in the classroom.