MANILA — It started with an open call in a Facebook group last Monday.
“I called for Chemistry scientists in the Overheard FB group and announced: ‘I said it's time to give back,’” narrated August Patacsil, project head and lead industrial designer of SaniTents PH.
Patacsil at that time was concerned that COVID-19 was going to affect the elderly when many Filipinos “have no clue as to what the lockdown is for.” He wanted to create a prototype for a decontamination tent.
In less than an hour, a team of industrial designers and other professionals was formed.
They agreed that SaniTents PH was going to be open source - meaning the design would be available to the public for free.
Four days later, the group behind the sanitation tent design has grown to over 80, composed of students and alumni from the University of the Philippines, as well as other schools like Ateneo de Manila University and University of San Carlos in Cebu.
They include managers, designers, chemists, engineers, virologists, microbiologists, visual artists and mathematicians.
The sample design has already gone viral on social media, although the team said it has not been finalized yet but is working as quickly as it can.
The group said they wanted the decontamination tent to be simple enough that it can be built by an average person or a local carpenter, made of low-cost and “upcycle-able household materials,” and can be executed by local government units and private entities.
The overall aim is for the tents to mitigate the risk and transmission of COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus that already reached the country.
The team hopes to have the tents set up at hospital entrances, MRT and LRT stations, bus stops, offices, grocery stores and public markets.
It will involve the use of atomizers or sprayers that use easy-to-make, do-it-yourself solutions.
The team is also finding ways to ensure that the materials, after proper disinfection, can be repurposed once the outbreak is over so they don’t end up in landfills.
They have already asked UP for access to laboratories and testing sites. The team said UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo has been very accommodating and had suggested that UP adapt the prototype construction as part of their research and extension work. This will allow them to secure funding for the construction if needed.
And because local governments from all regions have already reached out to them, they are tapping them for service passes to allow members to move through their areas during the prototype construction stage.