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Santa Monica, Calif., Centralizes COVID-19 Online Resources

The city has developed a public-facing dashboard dedicated to COVID-19 resources for residents and businesses. Features include the mapping of available essential services and other timely data.

An interactive map shows essential services throughout the city of Santa Monica, Calif.
An interactive map shows essential services throughout the city of Santa Monica, Calif.
Courtesy City of Santa Monica, Calif.
Information ranging from business openings to COVID-19 cases in the community can be found on a public-facing dashboard created by city officials in Santa Monica, Calif.

The dashboard displays details like the city’s infection rate, how that rate compares to the surrounding region, hospital infrastructure and availability as well as the types of EMS calls to nursing facilities.

“That helped us visualize the day-to-day situation, specifically to the disease,” said Lindsay Call, chief resilience officer and emergency operations center director during the COVID-19 crisis.

The dashboard uses mapping technology from Esri to compile and display the data, making it easy to digest for both residents and policymakers.

The city has also launched a new feature on its website “focused on economic recovery and community resources," devoted to economic recovery. Residents can take surveys, offering the city added insight into their concerns, and serves as a portal for businesses to access resources and other assistance related to recovery from the significant economic downturn brought on by the novel coronavirus crisis.

The city’s resource map also includes the names and locations of businesses like restaurants with information related to to-go orders.

“It’s served as a really useful tool, for not just restaurants, but for all of our central businesses. And we’re looking to see how that can grow as we develop as we move into the reopening and recovery phases,” said Call. “How can we adapt that tool to really encourage our residents to use local businesses, to harden our local economy and get it back up and running as quickly as possible ...”

Tools like mapping, the dashboard, and surveys have allowed the city to better engage with residents during the health crisis and have given officials added insights into vulnerable populations and communities in need, Call explained.

“Is it food insecurity? Is it challenges with food delivery, child-care needs, etc.?” she added, calling attention to some of the questions Santa Monica officials want to explore both during the crisis and as the county moves through the recovery process.

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.