Students of the Faculty of Business and Engineering design Blockchain Application for Contact Tracking
The Faculty of Business and Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt developed an easy-to-use solution for registering and tracking contacts in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. It was developed by an international team of students as part of a project seminar.
Whether in a restaurant or supermarket, at a private birthday party or when two people simply meet - infectious diseases can be transmitted everywhere. Restaurants therefore already had to keep guest lists last year, at great expense and with the risk of illegible or incorrect information from guests.
App supports operation of restaurants and shops
The student solution: When entering the restaurant, a QR code is scanned with the mobile phone and the visit is automatically registered. Restaurant owners can fulfil their obligation to keep the list digitally, and the public health department would be able to track the occurrence of infections based on the registrations with the help of software - on the basis of anonymous codes that initially do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about people.
This idea was pursued by students in the seminar "Current Issues in Digital Business Processes" last winter semester at the FHWS. The task was to develop and prototype an application scenario based on blockchain technology: Blockchain is - simplified - a shared (usually simultaneously distributed) database in which business transactions are documented in a comprehensible and unchangeable way for all participants. All participants can access this database. Everyone has the same view of the data status, which creates consensus on the state of the transactions. Transparency and efficiency of business processes can thus be increased considerably. The best-known application is certainly the digital currency Bitcoin, but there have long been numerous other applications in the economy, for example for monitoring supply chains, storing business receipts or proving the origin of goods such as diamonds or fair-trade coffee.
App for parties, culture and private encounters
The four-member project team, consisting of Teo Blazevic, Anastasiia Karpets, Natalie Mennig and Thorsten Weber, however, immediately had another use in mind: the better traceability of Corona infection chains. The scope of application goes far beyond restaurants: anyone can generate a QR code in the app and display it in public, for example in doctors' waiting rooms, at parties and cultural events. Even at private meetings, users can have their personal code displayed on their mobile phone screen. Visitors or contacts scan this code and the contact is registered in the blockchain with a time stamp and the place of the meeting. A new scan leads to the deregistration of the user from the contact situation.
App supports health authorities
If a user has tested positive for Covid-19, the test result can be stored in the app and all contacts of the past days can be automatically notified. The shop owners are also informed. At the same time, the personal status traffic light of the affected user turns red on the system's homepage. If the users have agreed to the data being passed on to the public health department, the contacts and infection chains can be digitally traced more easily.
Overall concept with many detailed solutions
In their roles as requirements analyst, architect, web designer and developer, the students constantly improved their concept. Prof. Dr. Bernd Knobloch, who supervised the project, slipped into the role of various stakeholders and constantly challenged the team by repeatedly asking questions, constantly adding new requirements from the user's point of view and pointing out unsolved difficulties. The result is impressive: A coherent overall concept as well as many detailed solutions, such as the automatic logon and logoff of employees based on their working hours or the automatic logoff from a restaurant after closing time (in case visitors forget to log off), round off the design.
App with many uses
Dr Christian Eggenberger-Wang, Technical Lead at IBM, highlighted the innovative performance of the team and was particularly convinced by the use of a QR code for contact registration. Unlike other solutions that rely on special hardware technology such as Bluetooth, almost any mobile device can read these codes. The technical hurdles for everyday use are thus extremely low. IBM supported the project by providing its blockchain software platform based on Hyperledger Fabric as well as technical support from experienced developers. The project is to be continued in the summer semester and the system further developed.
The course "Current Problems in Digital Business Processes" takes place every semester with a changing focus. It is offered by the "Digital Business" specialisation of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, which was newly created in 2019. The aim of the seminar series is to provide students with skills in the development of software-supported solutions for digitalised processes. In the winter semester, the seminar, led by Jan Senner and Prof. Dr. Bernd Knobloch, developed not only the Corona app but also a system for light-controlled multi-order picking (in collaboration with GPIO Solutions GmbH), the design of optimised user interfaces for SAP S/4 HANA using GUI XT (together with FHWS c-factory) and a workflow-based application system for ordering processes.
University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (FHWS)
Faculty of Business and Engineering
Prof. Dr. Bernd Knobloch