Tech-savvy residents of the US, Germany, and a few other countries have started using web-scraping bots to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination process. Some organizations have started utilizing bots to help immunize communities quicker, leaving residential proxy providers like IPRoyal to ensure their technology is used lawfully.
In countries where vaccination against COVID-19 is overseen by a large network of loosely affiliated institutions, people have to contact a private medical care provider to sign up for their vaccine dose. With the vaccine supply shortages and mixed information dissemination practices, people are forced to browse through multiple health clinics’ websites until they can secure an appointment.
Being faced with a lengthy and complicated process, tech-savvy individuals have started to automate it by creating web-scraping bots. That type of software scans vaccine providers’ websites and informs their creator if any nearby clinic has added new appointments.
In some parts of the US, health officials have taken measures to block these bots, which they argue give the tech-savvy an unfair advantage. However, while some people use web-scraping automation to secure appointments for themselves and the members of their immediate community, others employ this technology to make vaccination more accessible to the rest of the public.
For example, NYC Vaccine List is a publicly available database that shows all the available vaccination appointments in the New York City area. This platform uses a web-scraping-based algorithm to aggregate data from dozens of healthcare providers’ websites and presents it as a list. Consequently, New Yorkers can see when and where they can get vaccinated and are provided with a link to make the appointment.
“We are happy to see that business intelligence tools are used to aggregate and streamline information that is very time-sensitive,” said Karolis Toleikis, CEO of IPRoyal. “Collecting and analyzing large amounts of data is a process designed to make better-calculated decisions, which our customers typically employ to make better business decisions. Data collected via data scraping can facilitate processes such as web content creation, business intelligence, finding sales leads, conducting marketing or advertising research, and developing personalization. It is great to see that these business practices are being put to good use, as it is often misrepresented and misunderstood.”
Healthcare bots are not without controversy, as some New Jersey health officials point out that vaccination bots only favor technologically-inclined individuals. Others mistake web-intelligence gathering tools as means of spreading false information on a large scale, including fake-news about the vaccination as a whole. In response, IPRoyal has doubled down on implementing security measures that have strict ID-verification processes and abuse prevention practices on their platform.
“We have always worked with genuine individuals only. To ensure that our servers are not misused, we apply advanced user identity verification processes. This way, we can hold our users accountable if we suspect they have plans to engage in something unlawful. We do hope this becomes common practice among all residential proxy providers,” commented Toleikis.
Toleikis went on to say: “Our clients use large quantities of residential IP addresses to aggregate data, automating difficult processes to derive simplified information. Data scraping provides an opportunity to develop digital solutions for public benefit. We hope to empower those seeking to improve the vaccination process, encouraging collaboration with business intelligence professionals. In turn, we hope that misconceptions about technology use do not slow the process down.”
As with any technology that has wide-reaching possibilities—if used properly—business intelligence in the medical field can help relieve unnecessary stress by aggregating, processing, and streamlining information, allowing people to make more informed decisions as a result.