What is Nyss

Nyss is a custom software platform for data collection, management and analyses; tailored to the needs of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement for community-based surveillance (CBS).

​Nyss allows for real-time detection, reporting, aggregation, and analysis of information on community health risks; hence enables prevention, identification and response to disease outbreaks, through early warning and early response.

CBS in real-time

The ability to scale up CBS efforts; to cover large areas and to respond quickly – especially during critical times such as during an emergency – demands remote data collection and communication through technology that enables automation of data management processes. As such, Nyss has been developed; intended to be the core software solution for CBS movement-wide.

The platform supports volunteers, staff and delegates, from local to global levels, in decision-making for epidemic response based on reliable information. This ultimately helps us prevent and respond to potential outbreaks and emergencies, and enables efficient and relevant response to emergencies. Volunteers are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of epidemic-prone diseases, and given a simple phone to be the focal point in their community for reporting health risks. They do so by sending short, coded SMS. Nyss receives the SMS reports; aggregates and analyzes the data, shares it with the users of the platform and sends automatic alerts in real-time to Nyss supervisors and health authorities.

CBS and Nyss help health authorities act faster and save lives!

How does Nyss work?

Co-creation

Nyss has been developed by Norwegian Red Cross, in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Belgium Red Cross. The platform has been created through extensive collaboration between the technology industry, academia, the Red Cross and humanitarian sector, and with the support and contributions from more than 250 volunteers in Europe and Africa. These amazing volunteers have contributed through coding events in Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium and Dakar, Senegal. They have given their time, skills and dedication for a greater good, and we could not be more grateful!

The technology

Nyss is a cloud-based solution running on Microsoft Azure. The application itself is running on an Azure Web App, and so is the internal API (ReportAPI). Asynchronous communication between components of the system is facilitated through message queues on an Azure Service Bus. Nyss depends on a physical SMS gateway to relay SMS messages to the cloud.

Nyss runs in Docker containers on a managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure Container Service (AKS). It is all open-source and all the technological information behind the software can be found on our GitHub page. We wouldn’t want to build something as awesome as this without making it available to anyone who might need it and benefit from it. Furthermore, we’ve benefited a lot from using open source code in components of the software and we hope that others will benefit from what we have built!

Asynchronous communication

The SMS reports are received by a public facing Function app that puts the messages on a queue. These messages are then read by an internal Function app that posts an HTTP request to the internal ReportAPI, which parses and validates the reports. A feedback SMS is sent to the data collector who sent the report. The feedback SMS is sent through the physical SMS gateway through an email-to-sms service that the gateway provides.

Automatic alerts

If the report received is parsed and validated successfully, an alert is triggered based on rules specified on a project basis through the Nyss application. When alerts are triggered, notifications are sent as SMS and/or email, depending on configurations specified on a project basis in the Nyss application. In the event that an alert has not been handled within 24 hours, an email is sent to the manager.

Data protection

With Nyss we aspire to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, which is increasingly becoming the world wide gold standard in data protection.Regional confinement of data to northern Europe, encryption of all databases, user access controls, usage of HTTPS and rigorous documentation of all workflows related to data processing.

Open-source

The technology behind Nyss has always been intended to be open-source, and all the technological information behind the software can be found on our GitHub page. We wouldn’t want to build something as awesome as this without making it available to anyone who might need it and benefit from it. Furthermore, we’ve benefited a lot from using open source code in components of the software and we hope that others will benefit from what we have built!