How Businesses Are Bringing Clarity to Coronavirus Response

In a time of crisis, accurate data and quick insight are essential for a meaningful business response. As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads, companies are using location technology to help executives, employees, partners, and customers navigate effectively.

Business leaders are seeking clarity in a situation that changes hourly and varies widely across locations. Geographic information system (GIS) technology is helping them—and their employees and customers—understand the coronavirus reality and make decisions quickly.

COVID-19 Response Tactics

In the private sector, GIS professionals are quickly shifting their focus—from traditional projects like analyzing customer demographics and assessing prospective store locations—to creating resource sites and applications that guide people through the COVID-19 outbreak.

This site equips GIS professionals in the business community with datasets and resources to build effective dashboards for navigating the pandemic.

To manage uncertainty caused by coronavirus, GIS teams are using maps, dashboards, and other tactics to support executives, employees, customers, and the public:

Other data layers an executive might map include state and local shelter-in-place orders, online sales orders and pickup locations, and optimal delivery routes. This interactive map reveals the impact of COVID-19 on every county in the US, along with useful demographics by location.

Many of the above companies quickly deployed lightweight mobile apps for global facilities and offices. Regional managers use the apps to note the status of production, employee health, and other important metrics. That data is added in real time or near real time to smart maps at headquarters so the company can communicate status reports to customers and the public.

Finding Reliable Data During the Pandemic

Businesses, health officials, and governments are working together to address the public’s medical and everyday needs. That effort relies heavily on accurate data.

GIS acts as an information hub, connecting organizations to authoritative data sources and helping them make sense of their operations on a map. The Johns Hopkins map of COVID-19 cases, for instance, is built on GIS technology, and has been incorporated into business dashboards to bolster COVID-19 awareness.

GIS technology is also a platform for data sharing. At this GIS resource site (the same site mentioned earlier in this article) companies can connect to authoritative data sources, including:

In addition, companies like Walmart have created public dashboards with information on store openings and closings. A GIS team can add these and other datasets to information sites. With that trusted information situated on a map, employees, customers, and the public can quickly find resources to help them through the crisis.

Most companies already use the GIS technology that powers these maps, apps, and resource sites. By asking GIS professionals to contextualize critical information on COVID-19, business leaders are seeing more clearly during these difficult times.


Additional Resources for COVID-19 Response

How Your GIS Department Can Respond to COVID-19 [via Esri]

Reliable Data Is Helping Businesses Respond to COVID-19 [via WhereNext]

Rethinking Business Resilience in the Midst of the Coronavirus Outbreak [via Forbes, Esri]

Supply Chain Recovery in Coronavirus Times [via McKinsey]

COVID-19 Learnings for Consumer Goods [via Cognizant]

9 Maps That Show Which Areas Could Be More Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic [via Fast Company]


About the authors

Cindy Elliott heads Esri’s business sector industry strategy team. She helps to shape the role of geospatial analytics within manufacturing industries related to advanced market analytics, supply chain sustainability and resilience, and advanced services. For more than 15 years, Cindy has worked with global manufacturers and enterprise technology companies to influence customer-focused business transformation. Her work has been pivotal in building awareness for location technology’s ability to meet the growing complexities in global networks. Cindy is an executive board member of the USC Marshall Center Global Supply Chain Management Program (MCGSCM) and of the TCU Neeley School of Business Center for Supply Chain Innovation (CSCI), and is an established thought leader on the digital supply network and manufacturers’ advanced services (or servitization). She earned a master’s degree in international management from the Thunderbird Graduate School and completed Harvard Business School’s Program for Leadership Development.

Jeffrey Peters serves as director of global business development for Esri, playing a key role in strategic planning and corporate leadership. He has been a member of Esri’s Advisory Board of Directors for 15 years. Jeffrey has a B.S. degree in political science from the University of Montana and an MBA from the University of Redlands. He sits on the board of directors of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and is a former member of the Board of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council. Jeffrey has 25 years’ experience spanning information technology, business development, strategic planning, and corporate leadership in the software industry. He is a skilled business professional and technologist helping to set Esri’s vision and strategy for geospatial technologies and solutions.

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