Web infrastructure company Cloudflare is releasing a new tool today that aims to provide a way for health agencies and organizations globally tasked with rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to maintain a fair, equitable and transparent digital queue — completely free of charge. The company’s Project Fair Shot initiative will make its new Cloudflare Waiting Room offering free to any organization that qualifies, essentially providing a way for future vaccine recipients to register and gain access to a clear and constantly-updated view of where they are in line to receive the preventative treatment.
“The wife of one of Cloudflare’s executives in our Austin office was trying to register her parents for the COVID-19 vaccine program there,” explained Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince via email. “The registration site kept crashing. She said to her husband: ‘Why doesn’t Cloudflare build a queuing feature to help vaccine sites?’ As it happened, we had exactly such a feature under development and scheduled to be launched in early February.”
After realizing the urgency of the need for something like this tool to help alleviate the many infrastructure challenges that come up when you’re trying to vaccinate as quickly as possible a global population against a viral threat, Cloudflare changed their release timetable and devoted additional resources to the project.
“We talked to the team about moving up the scheduled launch of our Waiting Room feature,” Prince added. “They worked around the clock because they recognized how important helping with vaccine delivery was. These are the sorts of projects that really drive our team: when we can use our technical expertise and infrastructure to solve problems with broad, positive impact.”
On the technical side, Cloudflare Waiting Room is simple to implement, according to the company, and can be added to any registration website built on the company’s existing content delivery network without any engineering or coding knowledge required. Visitors to the site can register and will receive a confirmation that they’re in line, and then will receive a follow-up directing them to a sign-up page for the organization administering their vaccine when it’s their turn. Further configuration options allow Waiting Room operators to offer wait time estimates to registrants, as well as provide additional alerts when their turn is nearing (though that functionality is coming in a future update).
As Prince mentioned, Waiting Room was already on Cloudflare’s project roadmap, and was actually intended for other high-demand, limited supply allocation items: Think must-have concert tickets, or the latest hot sneaker release. But the Fair Shot program will provide it totally free to those organizations that need it, whereas that would’ve been a commercial product. Interested parties can sign up at Cloudflare’s registration page to get on the waitlist for availability.
“With Project Fair Shot we stand ready to help ensure everyone who is eligible can get equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines and we, along with the rest of humanity, look forward to putting this disease behind us,” Prince explained.