Data and Analytics Are Pointing the Way Forward

Data is being used to establish new baselines in real-time.



I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Mintz, Chief Data Evangelist at Looker about their compilation of and work on the Covid-19 Data Block. Looker’s Data Block is a free solution specifically designed to help simplify the complexities of this data by making data accessible and understandable to any employee, even those in a non-technical role, across verticals.


The same way the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of enterprises, it has also created unprecedented public interest in data and analytics and driven more data infrastructure online.


Looker is facilitating this by making data easy to analyze and query without writing SQL. Data is moving and changing shape. Looker takes messy real-world data and puts in a usable form addressing the dilemma of analysts and scientists alike that are used to spending 80% of their time munging and cleaning data so it can be analyzed. Looker provides data that’s ready to use. They clean it once for everyone, pull data in, and join with proprietary data to access and get insights in minutes versus weeks.


To do data cleansing well, you need familiarity with the data and be able to understand what it means. Looker has worked with healthcare customers and testing companies who are familiar with pandemic data. They’ve learned what healthcare and clinical research professionals need from the data for it to be meaningful.


Looker’s Data Block recently added Google Maps Mobility Data, which presents data by location and highlights the percent change in visits to places like grocery stores and parks within a geographic area. This enables anyone to see how different regions are trending.

Notable use cases and verticals include:

  • Retail - grocers who are seeing major spikes in sales online and in-store are using this data to provide insights into what to order and have in stock.

  • Healthcare - hospital systems, labs, and insurers using data to understand how to prepare their business and save lives, including Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) leveraging Looker’s capabilities to guide and monitor the delivery of critical aid to its members and patients during the pandemic.

  • Government - agencies using data to plan so they can mitigate the impacts of COVID on their citizens, including the State of Oklahoma among the first government agencies to announce the integration, using the Block to create a state-wide symptom tracker.

  • Restaurants – chains benefit by using the data to determine which locations to reopen as restrictions ease and how to re-engage employees and customers.

  • Weather – ability to use Looker Weather Block on top of the Google Mobility Data to align climate and people gatherings (e.g., nice weather days find more people outside in populated parks).

In normal times, consumers and business people are able to anticipate what’s going to happen based on previous experience in their lives and careers. However, virtually no one has been through a worldwide pandemic, so no one can anticipate how the economy and consumer behavior will evolve. This is driving more attention to data and analytics.


People are learning that more data provides more insights and clarity.


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© 2020 by Tom Smith | ctsmithiii@gmail.com | @ctsmithiii