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Local company invents COVID screening app, ready to sell it

Feedback from businesses, locally and nationwide, has been good, owner says
20201012-Robbie and Brenda photo supplied
Brenda Ciotti-Saunders and Robbie Saunders of trakrSuite. Photo supplied

A Sault Ste. Marie software development company has created a mobile phone app known as saniTrakr, a paperless, time-saving COVID-19 screening solution for employers and employees alike.      

The app is the invention of local company trakrSuite.

“It’s very fresh,” said Brenda Ciotti-Saunders, who along with husband Robbie Saunders, owns and operates trakrSuite, the saniTrakr app coming into being two months ago. 

How does the app work?

“(If you’re a business owner) saniTrakr is an application that consolidates all your protocols for COVID-19, including employee screening, maintaining cleaning of washrooms and public spaces as well as COVID tracing,” Brenda explained, speaking to SooToday.

“It’s all done from an individual’s phone, and the administrators would use the Online Management Console where all that data is kept instead of having to go through all the paperwork of everything you would normally have.”

Whereas every employee of a nursing home, for example, would normally have to show up for work and answer the usual COVID screening questions with a paper questionnaire, those same employees can instead, with the saniTrakr app, answer those questions on their phones, hit ‘submit’ and send that information to the nursing home’s administrators, clearing the way for employees to come to work.

That cuts down on time spent standing at a front desk and filling out a COVID screening with pen and paper, and a big time saver for both employers and employees.

“We have one customer we’re building around, and they've got 200 employees, two shifts, 100 employees at once…(with paper COVID screening) production is slowed, and one thing we can all agree on is we would love things to feel as normal as possible in difficult, unprecedented times,” Brenda said.

Businesses wishing to take advantage of saniTrakr may do so by paying a monthly subscription to trakrSuite for the technology, the subscription fee varying depending on the number of employees a business has.

“We’re setting up pilot programs with some businesses,” Brenda said.

Brenda said trakrSuite has received indications of interest in saniTrakr from hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, manufacturers, breweries, security companies, and basically anyone who runs an office, both locally and nationwide. 

“We’re doing our pitch. It’s in the final stages. Everything’s working and we’re doing our testing. I would say right now we’ve had nothing but good things said about it. Businesses are saying ‘we want to be able to handle these (COVID-19) protocols better.’ This type of solution, I think, will really give customers, hotel visitors and employees peace of mind, because this application will run these processes smoother and better.”

“What got us to saniTrakr, while working with other software solutions under trakrSuite, was customers coming to us and saying ‘here’s some problems we have, with a lot of paperwork building up because of our COVID pre-screening processes, it’s slowing us down and we’re trying to stay open,’” Brenda said.

“I would love to be able to say ‘look what Sault Ste. Marie has done’ in helping control the numbers, keeping businesses open and keeping people safe. And now we’re here, it’s developed, it’s time to get it into the hands of Saultites.”

trakrSuite also offers saniClean, an app whereby businesses can start up and maintain cleaning task lists for commonly used and commonly touched areas such as washrooms (especially handy in restaurants, bars and coffee shops), windows, door handles, stairwell bannisters, countertops and more.

Using the saniClean app, cleaning checklists can be easily completed and logged by cleaning employees and logged on a smartphone.

trakrSuite’s Online Management Console can then provide a log of cleaning records.

“It allows employees to go in, scan the bathroom, bring up a list of everything that needs to be cleaned, they do their cleaning and on their phone they mark ‘done, done, done,’ hit ‘submit’ and then it can be seen how often everything has been updated and kept clean,” Brenda said.

saniPass is the third of trakrSuite’s increasingly popular apps.

“We can see it working in restaurants,” Brenda said.

“Restaurants want to take your name and phone number (for COVID-19 tracking) but you’ve got your name and phone number right there (on a sheet of paper at the door, wide open for other, potentially nosey, sketchy customers to see).”

“With saniPass you would come in, sit down, see a card or menu that says ‘we’re trying to keep everybody safe so leave your information,’ so with your phone you would take a picture of a QR code on that card or menu, it brings up a website where you type in your name and phone number, hit ‘submit,’ it would produce a pass on your phone, then when the server comes by, he or she can see if everyone at your table’s done it and they’re going to have a log of everybody who was at their restaurant.”

“There’s no information left out but it’s being done very nicely and discreetly. It’s not like ‘sign this.’ And then if there happened to be someone (who tests positive for COVID-19 and is hopefully honest) who says ‘yes, I was at this restaurant,’ the restaurant management can go in and search and see who else was in that restaurant at that time.”

That’s a big time saver for people busily trying to run a restaurant and keep track of COVID-19 and relevant paperwork at the same time, Brenda said, adding TrakrSuite is especially eager to sell its technology in Sault Ste. Marie.

“I’ve always had this vision of making Sault Ste. Marie the tech centre of northern Ontario because we certainly have a beautiful landscape to live in and a great community to start a business. We really do want to be able to hire developers and build our brand here in Sault Ste. Marie.”

“I want to take care of Sault Ste. Marie like it’s a family member,” said the mother of two.

Brenda and Robbie moved to the Sault in 2012 to start up a company which scans barcodes for iPhones and iPads, beginning with inventory tracker technologies for businesses.

“It was a hardware company, so if you bought our product you had to have a big software development team to do all this for you, so most of our customers were large corporations who did all that for us,” Brenda said.

“But, we always wanted to be able to come up with software instead so that we could provide solutions on your mobile device...we’re always mobile based, building on whatever device you have in your hand.”

That switch from hardware to software gave birth to trakrSuite two years ago, developing ever-new technology, Brenda said.

Brenda and Robbie are trakrSuite’s business people who listen to a customer’s needs, then instruct three trakrSuite software developers (one in the Sault, two others in Toronto and Montreal respectively) to roll up their sleeves and come up with a mobile solution.

For Brenda, a Sault native, moving to the city eight years ago was a homecoming after living in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for 20 years. For husband Robbie, a Winnipeg native who lived in southern Ontario, it was a new experience.

“I’m so glad to be in Sault Ste. Marie. He (Robbie) loves the Sault so much everyone thinks he’s from here,” she chuckled, stating she enjoys shorter driving distances and being reunited with local family members and friends.