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Finding GIS-based solutions during the COVID-19 crisis

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, Canadians are growing increasingly concerned with the health-related impacts affecting their family, friends and colleagues. As part of the COVID-19 Resource Hub, Esri Canada has released the newly created Health Dashboard to give users an overview of the health circumstance in their communities. Built from authoritative data, this dashboard combines demographics, population stats and known health conditions in a geographic location. 

Esri Canada's COVID-19 Health Dashboard

Health officials need easy ways to deliver situational reporting in a digestible manner without the need to introduce complex and additional steps to their existing data gathering process. One organization we are working with is using spreadsheets for their collating and reporting purposes. It is ubiquitous across their enterprise; the tools are easily accessible and there is literally no learning curve to using it. More importantly, it is working for them. We ingest CSV files they update daily, in ArcGIS Online as hosted feature services, which then powers their custom Health Dashboard. The cool thing is when they update their spreadsheets, the changes are automatically pushed to their live dashboards in near real-time.  Learn more about auto-updating maps using CSV files here.  

These unsettled times call for proven, yet flexible responses to the COVID-19 situation. I would urge organizations to consider the efficacy of their existing systems and avoid drastic moves (just for the sake of GIS’ing everything) where possible – emergency situations are not the best time to overhaul entrenched workflows. That said, ArcGIS is completely adaptable to your processes and protocols, it enables us to introduce incremental improvements when and where it makes sense. I am mindful not to complicate things, but rather striving to seek solutions together in support of our partner’s needs.

About the Author

Nathan Enge is a Senior Technical Solutions Specialist at Esri Canada. He specializes in public safety, risk mitigation, and threat and site assessments. Nathan is passionate about solving strategic, tactical and operational problems for clients using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. He works with military, law enforcement and other government entities to leverage location intelligence. Nathan has been involved in GIS for over 22 years, with a military background in the Canadian Armed Forces and post-graduate studies in GIS.

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