LabHive: Development of a Digital Platform in the Fight against Covid-19

TÜViT students play a decisive role in the development of the LabHive digital platform.

“Spread the test – beat the virus!” is the motto of the LabHive digital platform, whose aim is to increase corona test capacities by building a strong diagnostic network. Part of the 15-member development team: the two TÜViT working students Philipp Nieting and Kenneth Ruiz Eiro, who are responsible for IT security and data protection within the team.

#WirVsVirus Hackathon: Development and Implementation of the Idea

The project was launched at the #WirVsVirus hackathon of the German government: This is where the idea of a digital platform was born in order to facilitate access to the necessary resources for diagnostic centers and thereby contribute toward enabling increased testing for the corona virus. "Following the hackathon, we started to put this idea into practice within a small project group," says Philipp Nieting, a master's student in IT security/information technology. "Shortly afterwards we learned that there was a second group that was pursuing a similar approach, but with the focus more on the scientific rather than the technical perspective.” Without further ado, the two teams decided to merge in order to combine their scientific and technical expertise within the framework of a common platform. As a result, "TestHive" and "LabShare" finally became "LabHive".

Since then, an interdisciplinary team consisting of 15 scientists, doctors, web developers and security experts has been working together on a voluntary basis to create the digital platform, which was officially launched this week. With immediate effect, qualified volunteers can offer their manpower through LabHive and supply reagents and laboratory equipment to research laboratories whose operations are restricted due to the corona crisis. The published offers can be viewed by diagnostic centers and taken advantage of if required. This will result not only in existing bottlenecks being compensated for, but also an increase in test capacity.

TÜViT students ensure IT security and data protection for the platform

The IT security and data protection aspects of LabHive were completely in the hands of the two TÜViT working students. Philipp Nieting was in charge of the programming of the new platform. "Normally, my work at TÜViT consists of checking web applications with respect to their security and finding potential vulnerabilities. In order to set up LabHive, I had to change my perspective and go from being an attacker to a defender," explains the IT security expert. "It was therefore necessary to program the platform in such a way that neither my colleagues nor any potential Internet criminals would find any vulnerabilities when trying to attack.”

Kenneth Ruiz Eiro, who joined the team as a data protection expert, underwent a similar change of perspective. "As a rule, I check whether companies have implemented their privacy policy and their imprint etc. correctly and, above all, in compliance with data protection regulations. In the case of LabHive it was up to me to set these things up correctly from the beginning and clarify the legal background. This included questions such as how we would license the new software as open source or what kind of IT security concept we would base the platform on. At this point, the knowledge that I had acquired during my work as a working student was a great benefit of course," the law student goes on. "I'm impressed by how our working students developed their own initiative from the idea of the #WirVsVirus hackathon and also changed their previous position: from the attacker or auditor to a developer perspective. An excellent training for future cooperation at TÜViT," adds a delighted Dirk Kretzschmar, Chief Executive Officer of TÜV Informationstechnik GmbH.

The development and implementation of LabHive is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The Björn Steiger Foundation also supports the project.

"For me personally, the most exciting aspect of LabHive is to broaden your own horizons, become acquainted with other perspectives and create something new together," is how Philipp Nieting sums up what the project means to him. And Kenneth Ruiz Eiro adds: "There is an incredible amount of diversity within the project. We are working together with people from a wide range of professional groups, both nationally and internationally. This results in an interesting exchange, from which it is possible to learn a great deal and enrich one’s own knowledge.”

Further Objectives: Europeanization of LabHive and Use in Developing Countries

It is not always easy of course to reconcile one’s studies, work and volunteering commitments. But the two students know: with LabHive they are making an important contribution towards the fight against the corona pandemic. And even with the successful release, the work for the development team has not come to an end for the time being, as new objectives have already been set.

"We also took part in the #EUvsVirus hackathon at the end of April and are now working to europeanize the platform so that other countries that are being severely affected by the corona pandemic can also make use of it," says Kenneth Ruiz Eiro. “Furthermore, we are already considering how LabHive can be used in developing countries that are being particularly badly hit by the crisis.”

Verena LingemannEditor

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