People were eager for information, but a lot of the information was coming from the World Health Organization or from the state, not the local level. Local data is compelling for our community. We’ve met these people. We all live on a small peninsula, so there is a level of trust when the data is coming from the community.
Locally Sourced Cape Cod COVID-19 Map Inspires Trust from Residents
In the same way many people gravitate towards locally sourced goods, they also prefer locally sourced information. When Cape Cod Healthcare needed a new way to inform the community about COVID-19, they called upon the expertise and technical ability of the Cape Cod Commission. Working in partnership with the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, the team collaborated to create a community-driven dashboard map of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The map serves the people of Cape Cod, a hook-shaped peninsula off the coast of the US state of Massachusetts.
Locally Sourced Data
Cape Cod Commission’s geographic information systems (GIS) department has provided technical services to many towns across the region. So, when Cape Cod Healthcare needed a way to display their collected COVID-19 data, they knew who could help them achieve their goals.
Cape Cod Commission developed a community-based dashboard to help their residents better understand and respond to the spread of COVID-19.
The dashboard contains data down to the ZIP code level and includes color coding according to infection risk potential.
A time slider tool allows users to easily identify periods of time when there are spikes in cases or when there are no spikes.
“Advanced map-based technology combined with the best available local data can help the community better understand and respond to the spread of COVID-19,” said Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Kristy Senatori. “We were pleased to partner with Cape Cod Healthcare and Barnstable County Health and Environment to help share fact-based information during this crisis."
As part of a community-wide effort to prevent virus transmission and keep the community informed about the number or cases, Senatori and her staff at the Cape Cod Commission built an interactive dashboard map using GIS technology from Esri. Patient case data for the map is updated daily, managed by the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of Cape Cod, and compliant with all patient privacy laws.
“People are familiar with a certain caliber of product coming out of our agency, so we weren’t surprised to have other members of our community reach out for assistance during these challenging times,” said Anne Reynolds, GIS Director, Cape Cod Commission.
The people of Cape Cod, like everyone else around the country, have been inundated by COVID-19 information. However, much of it focused on the federal or state level.
“People were eager for information, but a lot of the information was coming from the World Health Organization or from the state, not the local level. Local data is compelling for our community,” says Reynolds. “We’ve met these people. We all live on a small peninsula, so there is a level of trust when the data is coming from the community.”
Empowering Residents with Information
The Cape Cod dashboard map goes beyond providing county-level information. It shares data down to the ZIP code level to make sure residents can stay informed and protect themselves. It also provides a time slider tool allowing residents to see spikes in cases or long periods of time when there are no spikes.
“Bar graphs don’t lend themselves to accurately show growth rate over time,” says Reynolds. “The time slider helps us track if those times with no spikes align with specific recovery efforts such as when stay-at-home orders went into effect or when masks were required.”
The dashboard map shows new cases and running totals for every ZIP code summarized at the regional level across Cape Cod, and individual ZIP code level data for participating towns. The map also includes color coding according to infection risk potential: yellow for no new cases in 72 hours, orange for sporadic new cases in 24 hours, and red for high new cases or known cluster.
So far, the dashboard map has had more than 200,000 views with an average of 5,000 to 8,000 views each day.
Cape Cod’s dashboard map is empowering residents to make informed choices about public health and safety precautions, minimize their risks of infection, and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
As Cape Cod looks toward recovery, many residents are now requesting the Cape Cod Commission share economic impact information such as unemployment numbers and data related to how local businesses have been impacted. These next few months will be critical, as Cape Cod relies on significant seasonal income from vacationers in the summer. The Cape Cod Commission is now exploring the use GIS to support residents by providing key recovery information.
In Support of Esri ArcGIS Users
The story of Cape Cod Commission is just one example of how organizations are using GIS to respond to and operate more effectively during the COVID-19 crisis. This effort can be replicated in communities across the globe.
Esri is dedicated to supporting the efforts of many organizations through software, technical support, and resources. Some examples include the following:
• The Esri COVID-19 site connects organizations with insights, information, and updates.
• The COVID-19 GIS Hub provides a definitive resource for data, solutions, FAQs, and best practices to help organizations get started.
• The Esri Disaster Response Program (DRP) assists organizations with GIS software needs, technical support, services, and data. For immediate assistance, submit a Request for Assistance form. Requests are monitored 24/7.
As GIS technology continues to support organizations worldwide through this crisis, Esri will gather best practices and share lessons learned from jurisdictions around the globe to provide a greater understanding of and inspiration for COVID-19 response efforts.