As a way to get more Buffalonians on board with getting vaccinated, University at Buffalo has launched a new website that is considered a “one-stop-shop” for anyone looking for COVID-19 vaccination appointment openings throughout the region.
WNY Vaccine Hound is now in place to provide residents living in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Niagara, and Erie Counties with a critical resource that will help to speed up the appointment and vaccination process. The website is a tool that searches more than 100 local sites daily – the aggregation process results in a quick and painless search process. Ultimately, the more people getting vaccinated equates to the quicker Western NY can get back on its feet.
The website, developed and launched by faculty, students and staff from UB’s School of Management, with assistance from the UB Information Technology group, sources information on available appointments, as well as “wait list” opportunities. Brice Bible, vice president and chief information officer, and University Communications led the team towards the development achievement.
“At a time when the vaccine is still relatively scarce while the number of people searching for vaccine appointments continues to rise, making an appointment can be stressful and frustrating,” says Natalie Simpson, PhD, who leads the Department of Operations Management and Strategy in the UB School of Management. “As a result, looking for an appointment may often seem like a taxing game of Whack-a-Mole, as opportunities vanish as quickly as they sometimes appear.”
It was Simpson who initially brought the aggregate quandary to Sanjukta Das Smith, chair of the Department of Management Science and Systems. From there, Das Smith set out to identify a team that could tackle the timely initiative. The team turned out to be Dominic Sellitto, team leader and UB adjunct instructor, along with Anthony Guarnieri, Aditi Samiran Katti and Mayuri Garg, graduate students in the School of Management’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems program.
“There are a lot of moving parts that went into designing something so user-friendly,” says Sellitto. “This was all remarkably accomplished in just over three weeks. It’s quite an achievement.”
“We hope to make vaccination a bit less stressful, and to allow the community to see a wide range of opportunities,” says Simpson. “We know people are often driving considerable distances to receive a vaccination, but Vaccine Hound now lets people see what organizations in their own neighborhood might be providing. Its arrival couldn’t be more timely and we’re thrilled that a UB team has been able to lend a hand.”
Lead image: Photo by Obi Onyeador