Covid-19 Dashboards: Invaluable Tools in an Ever-shifting Pandemic

Data Stories Covid19 Data culture

September 09, 2020

Reading time: 4 min




The pandemic has forced businesses to shift their operating hours, and in some cases, alter their services. This situation is forcing local governments and businesses to innovate like never before – and quickly.

The pandemic of 2020 is forcing local governments and businesses to innovate like never before – and quickly. Many have pivoted to opening pandemic-related and economic data on one-stop online portals that provide the public with real-time business and health information. This vital information is helping to keep local economies humming.

The pandemic has forced businesses to shift their operating hours, and in some cases, alter their services. Public agencies have done the same. Citizens are often left in the dark as to which businesses and local government services are available and when. Economic Recovery informational dashboards are proving an invaluable resource to inform the public on the quickly shifting terrain of business and government services. The dashboards allow businesses and local governments to provide the public with up-to-the-minute changes in their operations. The portals also can be adapted to provide health information such as Covid-19 symptoms, when and where to get tested, and how to best practice social distancing. All this information is vital to local economies, since tamping down new cases of Covid-19 allows more businesses to open – even if just partially  – keeping local economies humming, even though they may not operate at pre-pandemic levels.  Promptly informing residents of a business’s re-opening increases that business’s chances of surviving the economic turmoil wrought by the pandemic. Providing easily accessible data in real time about local cases also promotes economic recovery because the data gives local residents confidence to patronize local businesses in areas where cases are on the decline.


Cambridge Online Portal Links Consumers with Business

Cambridge Local First (CLF) moved quickly after the pandemic hit to develop an online dashboard that keeps residents well-informed about local changes. Partnering with Opendatasoft, CLF, a non-profit network of 500 + local and independent businesses in Cambridge (MA), developed a one-stop online platform that connects businesses with consumers.  The site informs visitors on specific businesses that are open and the types of services available, such as take-out, delivery services, curbside pick-up, or restaurant patio dining. 

Cambridge Local First’s Dashboard “Find Businesses Near You” developed by Opendatasoft.

The CLF portal also allows businesses to promote and advertise upcoming events. It offers a search function for residents to find specific businesses that are open near them and offers a widget that allows people to donate to a fund to help specific businesses. The site is running a fundraiser for the 62-year-old small business Teddy Shoes Alive. By mid-August, more than $16,000 had been raised.

CLF’s page, titled Cambridge Local Businesses in the Time of Coronavirus, also features an interactive map where visitors to the site can touch a neighborhood listed on the screen and glean information about specific businesses there.

“One of the ways we've been supporting businesses and the Cambridge community is to inform the public on where and how to support local businesses in Cambridge,” a statement on the CLF page reads. “We hope that the data we've been gathering and the visualizations below will help you find much needed products and services, enhance your everyday life, and support our community during this difficult time.”

The site also features a regularly updated list of the actual number of businesses open, the percentage of businesses open, and the percentage offering delivery, take-out, or online sales. This information gives people a sense of how their community is faring economically during the pandemic.


Cambridge Local First’s Dashboard developed by Opendatasoft.

Other Communities Launch Economic Recovery Online Portals

Other communities also have launched Economic Recovery portals, some even include extensive health-related information on social-distancing practices, locations and operating hours for Covid-19 testing, and guidelines businesses before reopening. These sites also list which city services are available online and which city government offices are offering limited in-person services. They list online virtual arts and cultural events, locations of food trucks throughout the city, and notify health workers of discounted parking fees at garages, and how to get parking tickets waived on appeal.

The sites are extremely versatile and often feature industry specific-re-opening guidance, with pages focused on houses of worship, construction operations, libraries, and museums. The pages list timelines for reopening, protocols to follow, and re-opening checklists. Many feature donation buttons that allow visitors to donate to specific fundraising campaigns.

Similarly, government agencies are sharing valuable economic development data. For instance, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis launched economic development dashboards to inform its community. These dashboards provide real-time, interactive statistics and charts that describe the current economic situation across the State of North Carolina.


Economic Development dashboard “Current Employment Statistics” (CES) shared by the North Carolina
Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis powered by the Opendatasoft platform.


Economic Recovery Dashboards are proving invaluable during the pandemic. The portals are dynamic and adaptable to fit specific communities’ needs in the ever-shifting health and economic environment. The portals also keep communities well-informed, which in turn keeps communities strong economically.

Opendatasoft is here to help your organization build your own economic dashboards tailored to the needs of your community and local businesses. Contact us for more information! 

See you soon for more datadventures!


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