Taking Coronavirus testing to the streets of New York City

Jennifer Dimambro Jennifer Dimambro Principal,New York
13 July 2020

With a vaccine or treatments still in development, regular testing will be central to how businesses and institutions can reopen with confidence. In New York City, as in many American states, there is a pressing need to increase coronavirus testing capacity. We've been helping architectural practice SITU Studio to develop patient screening booths – urban “walk-thru” testing sites, suitable for a dense pedestrian environment like NYC.  

With Coronavirus, risks often occur when people congregate too closely, and likely queues can quickly become part of the problem. The layout and configuration of testing booths are also important factors, and designs must provide proper distancing and keep patients safe. To solve this issue, we've been working to model pedestrian traffic flows at testing sites, to make sure the testing process can be efficient and safe. Our analysis has allowed the design team to refine the queuing approach and maximize social distancing while also considering patient comfort.  

To be effective, testing must be accurate, safe and work at scale. SITU looked at one site where existing testing tents for hospital staff are currently able to test 120 people per day. The new patient screening booth system we have helped develop for the general public to use can test 100-120 people per hour. We’re also working with SITU to adapt the screening booth design for other contexts and industries like schools, to help prepare their facilities for safe reopening and operation. 

We used our own pedestrian modelling software, MassMotion, to simulate the flow of patients within a space over time. The model predicts people’s movements, tracks the proximity between patients and indicates hot spots where people are not staying far enough apart. The project has been a fast-moving combination of the latest digital simulation insights, healthcare knowledge, architecture and engineering. 

Find out more about SITU

We used our own pedestrian modelling software, MassMotion, to simulate the flow of patients at the testing booths within a space over time.