This week, a group that works for Toronto software company Alida launched Vaccine Finder Toronto, a free online community tool that aims to help Torontonians navigate evolving COVID-19 vaccine protocols and get vaccinated faster.
The team behind the tool includes Daniel Charles, VP of technology, Ian McIlwain, web strategy manager, Madeleine Bailey, user experience designer, and Mostafa Drz, engineering manager, Alida employees based out of the company’s Toronto headquarters.
The group behind the tool said the existing vaccination system has been difficult to navigate.
Given “frequent changes” to eligibility criteria and “a surplus of vaccine information online,” the group behind the tool said the existing vaccination system has been difficult to navigate, and has “caused increased confusion and anxiety within the community.”
“Finding out if you’re eligible for a vaccine, and booking a vaccine appointment is a real challenge to many people in Toronto,” wrote Charles in a LinkedIn post. “I am pleased to announce that today we launched the Toronto Vaccine Finder tool to help make this process easier.”
The web-based tool, which is separate from the Ontario government’s booking system, is powered by Alida and available via desktop or mobile. It involves a questionnaire that determines user eligibility based on demographic and other criteria, such as occupational and community factors or health conditions. The tool then uses the information gathered to provide qualifying users with a personalized list of locations closest to them.
Ontario’s vaccine rollout has been slow, due only in part to supply issues. The province’s vaccination eligibility criteria are complex, vary significantly region-to-region, and are constantly shifting, while Ontario’s vaccine booking system has experienced at least one major technical glitch.
“Many Torontonians may not be aware that they are eligible for a vaccine as the current booking platforms are highly fragmented and individualized,” the group of Alida employees wrote. Alida has expressed support for the employee-driven initiative.
In response to this issue, other independent volunteer initiatives have also emerged, including Vaccine Hunters Canada, which was launched last month by a group that includes Joshua Kalpin, a Toronto-based software engineer for American payments startup Square.
According to the group of Alida employees, the Vaccine Finder Toronto platform has two distinct features: it allows Torontonians to determine eligibility as vaccination criteria and eligibility evolves, and uses open data to display all available booking sites in a single place. The group also claims the tool does not capture any personal data.
Formerly known as Vision Critical, the Toronto-based software company rebranded to Alida in September. Alida operates a platform that helps users manage, monitor, and optimize customer experiences. Founded in Vancouver in 2000, the firm moved its headquarters to Toronto in 2019 when it added Ross Wainwright as CEO.
According to Health Canada, to date, nearly 11.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Canada, including over 4.2 million doses in Ontario.