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In the second of a two-part series, we dive into what exactly location-based data can unlock, the reality that coronavirus may be here to stay, and what organizations can do if a data-overhaul is not an immediate, or near term, possibility.

Last week, in part one, we examined the critical role that location-based data plays in an organization’s response, planning, and reaction to crisis situations. One of the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic being that it is a location-by-location challenge, specific geographical information can be key in navigating the patchwork of the United States’ federal response to the outbreak. This is the dark side of federalism: it encourages a patchwork response to epidemics. States and localities may decide to implement aggressive disease-mitigation measures, but need not do so. The defining feature of the U.S. response to Covid-19 therefore continues to be localized action against a threat that lost its local character weeks ago.—The New England Journal of Medicine

But what does location-based data provide? Is it worth the overhaul in what would be a time and resource-intensive project? And for organizations left without either as a result of the economic downtown triggered by the initial outbreak, where does that leave them?

What Location Data Unlocks

Every organization has location-based functions or assets that are critical to operations and can be adversely affected by natural disasters, state lockdowns, wide-sweeping pandemics, and more. With location-based data, organizations can approach what’s next on the offense, enabling collaboration, innovation, and leadership within. Right now, any reprieve from the unknown is welcome.

Whatever the recovery looks like, it's likely to be uneven across geographies, industries and even local levels if hotspots of new infection develop. This will be especially challenging for enterprises that do business across regions (large chains, for example) or those that operate in areas where the virus is more difficult to contain, such as large urban centers. The need for trusted data should be another lesson learned. Data collection, management and governance can ensure mitigation of short-term impacts and help crisis-proof the business for the future.—Forbes

The ability to see where critical resources are—stockpiles of goods, manufacturing plants, office locations, distribution hubs, mission-critical personnel—enables organizations to develop data-backed responses. Crises and pandemics are no time for knee-jerk reactions or gut instincts. They are complex situations compounded by countless factors that no single person, or a small department, can reasonably take on while accounting for other responsibilities. The only way to make the right decisions quickly, whether it’s relocating personnel, transferring equipment/materials, or building protection for assets, is by utilizing location-based data. When lives and livelihoods are on the line, it is imperative to have answers and actions backed by information.

The Time is Now (for Some)

With the stark reality that compounding crises are already here in the form of massive floods across the Midwest, and more to come with a heavy hurricane season expected in the Atlantic, now is an opportune time to embrace disruption and lean into the opportunity to cultivate location-based data. Through an optimistic lens, the disruption from the outbreak has provided an opportunity for businesses to reexamine data and processes, implement best practices, and cultivate location-based data while picking up the pieces.

From a pragmatic point of view emerges the likelihood that the coronavirus is here to stay, adding further urgency to data-based needs. The Washington Post article Coronavirus may never go away, even with a vaccine, paints a reality in which COVID-19 becomes an endemic disease, to the likes of HIV, measles, and chickenpox. “Experts in epidemiology, disaster planning and vaccine development say embracing that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response,” the article reads. With this new reality, steps taken by organizations in the next few months could dictate what their place in such a future could look like.

More immediately, states should be using this time to craft quick-response systems and protocols. With hundreds of cities and counties reopening, think of each as a mini laboratory yielding valuable data on what will work against the virus in coming years. But most still lack the tools to capture that data… We desperately need better data and fast. It blows my mind we still don’t have it—Washington Post

Coming to terms with the possibility of a future in which coronavirus is just another factor of life is crucial in taking the appropriate steps now to safeguard against failed or patchwork attempts at reacting to future outbreaks. Though, from an organizational standpoint, organizing data by location is easier said than done.

What Can Reasonably Be Accomplished

Right now, we are experiencing a small window of reprieve ahead of a potentially heavy hurricane season and an anticipated second wave of COVID-19 cases. How are organizations expected to embark on a laborious data project with minimal resources, time, and bandwidth?

Determining where a project of this scale falls on an organization’s priority list is first and foremost. Taking the time to use these crises to identify areas where location-specific data is needed the most is a much-needed exercise in setting a project of this magnitude in the right direction. Start with knowledge gaps your organization is already reeling from, and build on it. From there, identify stakeholders, begin to get people thinking about which departments would be involved, what a timeline might look like, and where buy-in is needed. Even without the ability to execute on curating location-based data, the planning is just as imperative.

While it is highly unlikely that many organizations will be able to get location-based data up and running by this fall, the future is certain to hold use cases. Having data organized in this manner can make a significant difference in disaster planning. It also opens up the possibility of implementing the right technology that can help you expand upon the way you put your data to work. From triggered workflows that notify individuals of necessary details as it becomes available to event-triggered reports detailing high-risk areas based on parameters set within the system, the capabilities that location-based data enables for organizations is extensive.

With the onset of the unforeseen, organizations will be forced to pivot and adapt quickly. What organizations learn as they deal with the current challenges will determine their longevity in the future.

For more information on how Origami Risk can support your organization’s location-based data, request a demo. For a list of our coronavirus resources, including webinars, one-pagers, blogs, and more, click here. For a PDF of this two-part blog, click here.