The 'Citizen Care Pod' could be the newest virus testing site -- and it's a shipping container
TORONTO -- In the near future, we may be pulling up to retro-fitted shipping containers to get tested for COVID-19 -- a company is building “pods” to work as modular testing stations, and is hoping to implement them across the country.
“It’s a smart screening and testing pod, outfitted in existing shipping containers,” Zenon Radewych, an architect and co-founder of Citizen Care Pods Corporation, told CTV News on Tuesday. “Basically, we took a shipping container, we outfitted the interior … and we’re able to screen and test people in a very safe way.”
Pictures of these new “pods” show healthcare workers peering out of windows installed in the sides of a white shipping container. A red cross is emblazoned on the side of the container above the words “Citizen Care Pod.”
These pods have the potential to be installed in large areas such as sports venues, airports or construction sites, to serve as pop-up virus testing stations.
The idea is that visitors will drive or walk up to the windows to receive their testing, and health-care workers will be able to administer tests through the window while remaining separated inside the pod. Tablets mounted on the outside of the pods will help facilitate the process.
Radewych said that four pods have been built so far and are in the testing phase.
Installing the technology was the trickiest part, he said. One feature is a set of cameras and speakers on the outside of the pods to make sure visitors are following the rules.
“We use cameras to identify if people are standing, for example, two metres apart or not, are they wearing face masks or not,” he said.
They’re also working with Microsoft to optimize the technology used inside the pods. The temperature and humidity within the pods will be monitored, and workers will also be able to see crowd sizes and wait times on a platform powered by Microsoft Azure, without leaving the pods.
“It’s really all about mobility and creating this very, very safe environment for both the people that are doing the testing and the people that are actually approaching the unit to be actually tested and screened,” Radewych said.
The company has teamed up with PCL Construction to physically build the pods, which can be put together very fast, according to Radewych.
“We went from concept, from sketches, to four pilot models actually built -- two in Ontario and two out west in Alberta,” in just two weeks, he said. “So these units can be built, hundreds … within a couple of weeks.”
The creators hope that the pods could potentially be used for flu screenings in the future, and for delivering vaccines.
Just when these pods could become available to more of the public is unknown yet, but according to a press release, the company is negotiating with a lab diagnostics company in order to “deliver a reliable, convenient testing experience.”