Beyond expands, targets another critical health and climate challenge with AWS
Born in South Africa, internet of things company Beyond, now scaling phenomenally through a global partnership with Solar Direct Drive vaccine refrigerators, aims to increase the public health impacts of its technology by addressing the air quality challenge next.
Beyond, running on the AWS Cloud, has been providing remote monitoring and control solutions to the world’s most vital health organisations for almost two decades.
Better vaccine cold chains for enhanced global health
A key Beyond solution, Cold Chain Monitoring, ensures that vaccines, medicines and blood supplies are stored and transported safely throughout the cold chain. Beyond’s technology has enabled global organisations such as UNICEF, The World Health Organization (WHO), the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Pan American Health Organization and their partners to continue the life-saving work they do by providing real-time visibility of their remote and mobile assets, benefiting millions of people in over 127 countries each year.
A recent deal with Dulas will also see Beyond’s hi-tech ICE3 monitoring device fitted as standard to Dulas’s range of Solar Direct Drive (SDD) vaccine refrigerators at their manufacturing facility in Bognor Regis. This means rural and remote facilities will receive their vaccine refrigerators already fitted with Beyond monitoring devices, and will simply download an app to manage and monitor the refrigerators.
“The partnership with Dulas speaks to both the ingenuity of the home-grown technology and the force-multiplier effect of cloud computing, enabling businesses to dream big and scale beyond traditional markets. In the last 30 days, over 1 000 of these 'Beyond Ready' Solar Direct Drive vaccine refrigerators have been sold and are headed to Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Nigeria and Nicaragua, where they’ll be working to prevent disease and save lives,” said Ian Lester, CEO at Beyond.
Lester says working with AWS in particular has supported Beyond’s phenomenal organic growth: “From the time AWS arrived in South Africa and invited us to make use of their free tier to explore the possibilities, they have had an incredibly collaborative approach. They helped us build and secure our environment in the cloud, plus the AWS brand is powerful, so when we tell customers we use AWS, it ticks important boxes for them.”
“None of this would be possible without cloud computing. The cloud infrastructure allows for economies of scale, so we now have a team of just 19 engineers monitoring around 65 000 devices worldwide,” he says. “We are in some of the toughest and most hostile regions on the planet – places where it would be virtually impossible to commission and manage a server on the ground. In many regions, healthcare workers have enough challenges without being burdened with the hassle of managing software and servers. Being cloud-based removes the risks and challenges associated with physical infrastructure, giving us scalability, security and economies of scale, and making better healthcare accessible everywhere,” added Lester.
Broad impacts of better health
Lester notes that the partnership with Dulas will completely disrupt the market and benefit not just individual patients, but also their families, broader communities and national economies.
“The whole vaccine ecosystem, with myriad moving parts, is creating a long-term impact through the work we are doing. We are proud to be a cog in this machine, making sure children grow up to be healthy and productive,” he says.
The benefits of a vaccine don’t end with each child who is vaccinated: the benefits extend to that child’s family and community, Lester says. “When more children grow up to be healthy, successful adults, poverty and population explosions decline, which ultimately addresses our single biggest existential threat – a looming climate change catastrophe.”
Beyond aims to focus on a key environmental and health challenge – air quality – as it scales. “While COVID-19 has been a priority focus, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that around 7 million people around the world die each year because of air pollution,” Lester says. “Those most affected are the world's poorest communities burning fossil fuels – or worse, garbage – for heating and cooking. The next level for Beyond will be to use our existing network of devices to add air quality monitoring to give global health organisations more insight into air pollution to inform their decisions about respiratory diseases and climate change.”
Enablers for innovation
Lester believes that South African and African innovators have an advantage over global giants when it comes to developing solutions for certain challenges: “Many major international firms don’t understand the complexities of the challenges developing countries face, such as unreliable power,” he says. “For example, Beyond developed technology with a single battery that runs for five years without needing to be recharged or replaced – because we had to. South Africa is a phenomenal lab to solve problems other countries face, so we see local companies having global impact.”
Lester and other healthcare innovators using the AWS Cloud will participate in a Cloud Series executive forum to be hosted by AWS in collaboration with ITWeb on 7 July, where experts will explore the ways in which the South African health sector is employing the AWS cloud and other technologies to enhance service delivery. To register for this event, click here.
For more information about AWS for health, visit https://aws.amazon.com/health/.