During the summer of 2020, government leaders needed to continually evaluate the economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on their communities. Having accurate, timely data was essential to making strategic decisions about how to help businesses, determine what businesses could open and which should stay remote, and how long shutdown protocols should remain in effect. Unfortunately, they didn't have access to the data they needed.
Illinois-based economic development services firm, Blane Canada, LTD., partnered with the volunteer grassroots BR|E (business retention/expansion) COVID-19 Response Network to create a way to quickly provide data to government leaders. They created a benchmark survey and follow-up questionnaire consisting of carefully selected questions related to the workforce, finances, supply chain, and future needs and used the responses to measure the level and severity of the economic impact and learn the needs of businesses.
While they had a large volume of relevant, valuable data, they needed a data dashboard that would allow them to analyze and distribute data and share it freely to the public on a large scale. The group needed a technology partner who would take time to understand the problem, ask the right questions, and build a technology solution against a tight timeline.
Eric Canada, CEO of Blane Canada, was confident that Fusion Alliance, his company’s technology partner of two years, would be the right fit and asked if our team could build a data dashboard for economic developers to learn the impact of the virus on their business communities. Within two weeks, we had a solution and dashboards up and running, available to the public.
Our team was aware that a solution needed to be launched quickly. We started by evaluating survey platforms and conducting proof-of-concept testing to see which platforms met all the requirements, and then selected the best option for our data dashboard.
With a platform in place, we could determine how to standardize and unify data collection to improve returns and gain more quantifiable data. Our team built the survey, sent it out and also shared it with other entities so they could also send out the survey to businesses in their area. This all took place within five days of Blane Canada, ltd. reaching out to Fusion.
From there, we turned our focus to displaying the results. We recommended a data dashboard that was similar to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard, and our client agreed. A dashboard would allow users to see the story in a visual format and interact with the data. Working against the clock, we built the dashboard and demoed it a few days later to over 100 organizations in the growing grass-roots volunteer network.
Two days after the survey was sent, they began receiving data which was then aggregated and put into the analytics toolset. It worked exactly as it should, and the group continues to send surveys and follow-up monitoring questionnaires nationwide, updating the data dashboard as more results come in. Many companies submitted four separate monitoring surveys, providing added data points that government entities and grassroots organizations could use.