Ravi Solanki, an Indian-origin physician, is among 19 winners of the United Kingdom's Royal Academy of Engineering President's Special Awards for Pandemic Service for exceptional engineering achievements in tackling COVID-19 throughout the UK.
Solanki, a physician working on neurodegenerative diseases, along with Raymond Siems, an engineer working in machine learning, were awarded for their volunteer work to help build a secure and fully functioning website for a new National Health Service (NHS) charity HEROES.
They created www.helpthemhelpus.co.uk, a website that included a crowdfunding page and resources for NHS staff as well as directing members of the public to NHS-approved COVID-19 information, crucial at a time when misinformation was spreading rapidly.
“The website built by Ravi and Raymond is, quite simply, breath-taking: it’s simple to use, functional and desperately needed," says Dr Charlotte Feinmann, UCL Student Psychological Services. "Thanks to the website, the impact of HEROES has been immense.”
The duo were praised for working in record time to make the platform sophisticated and efficient, ensuring it could enable funding, provide counselling and wellbeing services, childcare support and sustainable personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS workers.
In less than two days, the team including Evan Martin and Wilson Griffiths turned an idea into a "genuine impact" secure website through which more than 543,000 items of much-needed support have been provided to NHS workers, from sustainable PPE to counselling services and child care.
"Ravi and Raymond's round-the-clock contributions allowed the new charity to tap into public sentiment and collect donations quickly so that NHS workers could receive the support they needed when the COVID-19 crisis was at its peak in the UK," noted the Academy in its citation.
"Their technical know-how allowed HEROES to support 90,000 NHS workers in three months. The team's work to expand the digital platform and support provided to healthcare workers is ongoing," it added.
The honours have been awarded to teams, organisations, individuals, collaborations and projects across all technical specialities, disciplines and career stages within the UK engineering community who have contributed to addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and specially commissioned silver medals will be presented to all 19 winners later this year.