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Analytics and coronavirus


By Steve Cavolick

Every month I write a blog post to highlight best practices in analytics and interesting examples of how organizations are using analytics to find value in their data. Things are different this month. Very different.

So instead of focusing entirely on analytics, I am going to write a few words about the role analytics is playing in with COVID-19, but I will also provide some observations and tips around how not to go stir-crazy while maintaining safe social distance.

COVID-19 is here and is changing the way we live, work, and socialize. My heart goes out to all of those physically or financially impacted by the virus. I am also inspired by the selfless work performed by our frontline healthcare workers and first responders, laboring to treat all of those affected. And I can’t forget to thank the retailers who are working tireless and dangerous hours to stock store shelves with the items we need.

I stopped flying to customer destinations weeks ago, and like you, must now work from home and conduct all business virtually. Even though there are only three members of my family, having been together for just a few weeks while trying to be productive already has me feeling a little like the mother in this video

All kidding aside, we often describe the importance of data in the analytics journey as one that includes four steps: collect, organize, analyze and infuse. Those tasked with stopping the spread of the virus, saving lives, and directing resources to the hottest areas as quickly as possible must have data that is absolutely right. With so many possible sources and an avalanche of data, what could those four steps look like in relation to COVID-19?

Collect: Identifying all the data sources that could be used to find and battle the virus is the first step. It is reported that in Shanghai, workers share their temperatures, travel history and other information in an effort to detect and act on the illness. Taiwan used cell phone GPS tracking of its 400,000 citizens in China to understand where their people were in relation to outbreak hot spots. These are just a few of the sources that are being used.

Organize: All of the data from the sources mentioned above need to be stored, organized, and correlated in order to do basic visualization or build AI models. This requires a strong information architecture, just as your business would.

Analyze: Once your data is clean, then you begin to identify problems and where they are.

The link below is to a COVID-19 tracking site that is update hourly. It’s not the slickest visualization, but an example of how large amounts of organized data from many sources can be presented for easy consumption.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

Infuse: AI and ML is being used by governments to understand past events to predict what is likely to happen with the disease spread. For example, when local physicians report new cases to the CDC, other agencies can link where those people have been in order to understand where the disease is likely to migrate. Once we understand the disease better, the models could eventually be focused around population health by leveraging social media and smart watch data to predict outbreaks before they are actually reported. 

Analytics, science, and facts will lead us past COVID-19. In the meantime, if you are struggling for things to do with your family at home or are searching for ways to explain the situation to kids, here are some helpful links for both kids and adults. 

National Geographic’s Family Resource Center (Including Boredom Busters)

100 Things To Do While Trapped Inside

Learning Resources For Kids Of All Ages

AI Activities and Apps For Kids (and adults!)

CDC Guide On Managing Stress

Even as we deal with the pandemic, LRS is still laser-focused on its commitment to helping its customers solve their most challenging business problems and achieve corporate goals. We’re thinking about you and here if you need us.

The LRS Big Data and Analytics team has over 20 years of experience in analytics, information management, and data warehousing. If you are interested in understanding how we can help you find value in your data, please fill out the form below to request a meeting.

About the author

Steve Cavolick is a Senior Solution Architect with LRS IT Solutions. With over 20 years of experience in enterprise business analytics and information management, Steve is 100% focused on helping customers find value in their data to drive better business outcomes. Using technologies from best-of-breed vendors, he has created solutions for the retail, telco, manufacturing, distribution, financial services, gaming, and insurance industries.