Sioux Falls, S.D., has successfully tamped down an outbreak of the novel coronavirus this summer, but in preparing for a possible second wave this fall has deployed a new cloud-based artificial intelligence platform to better utilize data to keep on top of the spread of the virus.
The platform will enable Sioux Falls to uncover information within city, county, state and federal silos, and analyze and map that data to allow the city to create colored zones that help visualize where virus hotspots are, where resources like test kits and other medical supplies are, where quarantine locations are, and show comparative data from neighboring jurisdictions.
The Coronavirus Emergency Response (CoVER) platform, from Quantela, is a solution that has been deployed in other nations, but the Sioux Falls deployment is its first in the U.S. The platform is used for tracking, communicating and managing data and is being adapted to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“In the face of a possible second wave this fall, implementing the CoVER platform can help us better monitor detailed patterns and trends in our data, enabling us to formulate appropriate responses before things reach a crisis point,” Mike Grigsby, director of innovation and technology for Sioux Falls, said in a press release.
The platform processes open data to identify trends and patterns while monitoring the spread of the virus and locating breakout areas to enable appropriate mitigation actions such as sharing the intelligence with local businesses as a warning that the area is becoming a high-infection zone.
“More than anything, what we’ve learned about the virus is it’s about education,” said Aaron Simkin, vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances Americas at Quantela. “It’s about knowing where there are issues and actually being able to pay attention to that because the data is in a raw form and you can see everything in front of you.”
The data includes hospital information on the availability of beds, and test kits and positive tests. It’s been traditionally difficult to obtain all the data necessary to put together a strategy because it is tied up in silos. This platform is able to extract that data in real time.
“It’s anonymous open data that we’re using from the city and we supplement it with county, state and federal data to bring all the sources together,” Simkin said. “You can overlay the data and see how you’re doing in relation to everyone else.”
But maybe more importantly, the data uncovers where hotspots might be taking off, allowing mitigation measures to be put into place. “Unless you know where the problem is, it’s tough to do anything,” Simkin said. “The first thing we want to do is clearly and very visually be able to show you where your hotspots are and where they aren’t, and then as a result we’re hoping that’s going to drive policy.”
Sioux Falls had a few incidents this summer where there were large clusters of outbreaks of the virus in certain areas. The platform can allow officials to monitor such outbreaks in real time and take mitigation measures before the outbreak gets out of hand.
“What we are trying to do is take all this information that they have and process it in a way that will allow them to make informed decisions that drive outcomes,” Simkin said.