Big Data/COVID-19 News – 6/1/2020

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The big data ecosystem has come out strong to help combat the global coronavirus pandemic by announcing new products and services to help fight COVID-19. In this article, I’ve listed a number of the recent announcements along these lines. Kudos to all the vendors listed below, you may just make an important difference in getting the world past these trying times!

Gravy Analytics Partners with so Data Scientists Can Speedily Correlate Foot Traffic and Socio-economic Data in the Post-Pandemic World

As economies begin to re-open post-COVID-19, data will be essential to understanding changed human movement patterns and business opportunities in the “new normal.” Gravy Analytics becomes the exclusive foot traffic data provider to the data marketplace. Now, data scientists can use to access Gravy’s privacy-friendly Visitations data – detailing consumer visits to millions of commercial places of interest – and instantly correlate it with their own data sets, replacing a notoriously painstaking and manual process. The result is faster and more predictive insights about where people are going in the physical world and how that intersects with other economic and demographic data models. 

Gravy Visitations data, the company’s foundational data product, has provided 17,000 different features capturing visits to an array of brands and place categories, as well as visits per 10,000 people at the zip code geography level. It joins the myriad of data sets in the marketplace, which includes public data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Labor, as well as other macroeconomic, consumer spending, home and gas prices, crime, weather data, and other commercial sources.

“Pre-pandemic data sets and assumptions won’t fly in the post-COVID-19 world. Businesses are starting over, and they’re going to need relevant data to understand where people are going post-pandemic, and how that maps to their operations, product development, supply chains and marketing,” said Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics. “’s platform makes it easier for researchers to explore the relationship between people’s movements and multitudinous other data features, fueling new use cases and possibilities.”

New State of Business Intelligence and Analytics Report Indicates Data Analytics is Central to Critical Decision-Making
During and After COVID-19 Crisis 

Sisense, a leading analytics platform for builders of analytics, announced the results from its State of BI & Analytics Report 2020: Special COVID-19 Edition, an exhaustive survey of 500 US companies conducted by research firm Meidata. The findings indicate the continued importance and central role of examining data to enable organizations to understand changes and business opportunities during and following the COVID-19 economic turmoil. Respondents were optimistic about the continuing importance of analytics. Forty-nine percent of companies surveyed also use data analytics more or much more than before the COVID-19 crisis. This is despite 67% of businesses sustaining a loss of revenues or customers, according to Dresner Advisory Services.

Key findings from the report indicate:

BI and analytics professionals remain optimistic — Analytics are as important as ever to the respondents, offering increased clarity in a time of tremendous uncertainty. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said analytics were more or much more important than before COVID-19. Respondents report an increase in analytics use and new opportunities across all departments. 

Small businesses lead the charge — Facing different business challenges, smaller companies, between 51 and 200 employees, shifted the most to adopt new use cases for their data in response to the crisis. They lead larger enterprises in the use of analytics across every department with 68% of small businesses using analytics in Operations, 56% in Finance, 50% in Sales, and 45% in Product.

Companies are using data in new ways — Companies have refocused their data usage to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities they face today. As example, 55% of businesses have started utilizing data to improve efficiency and rely on it to predict changes and outcomes. Forty-seven percent look to their data as indicators of how they can better support their customers, and 45% count on data to predict business outcomes. 

“Robust use of data analytics is no longer simply the mark of an industry leader but a crucial quality for the success and even survival of most companies,” said Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense. “Those companies (small and large) who adopt data-driven decision making separate themselves from the pack. With analytics they find those vital pivot points and thrive versus facing existential danger.” 

Despite Reduced IT Budgets Due to COVID-19, IT Decision-makers Continue Cloud and Analytics Investments

Yellowbrick Data, a leading data warehouse for hybrid cloud, announced the results of a survey assessing the impact of COVID-19 on enterprise IT.  Yellowbrick Data received responses from over 1,000 enterprise IT managers and executives, uncovering their infrastructure priorities during this era of economic uncertainty and disruption.

At a high level – and contrary to conventional wisdom – not all IT budgets are being cut. Even with the economic challenges that COVID-19 has posed for businesses, almost 38% of enterprises are keeping their IT budgets unchanged (flat) or actually increasing them.

“The survey brought to light some trends that we have been noticing recently related to the speed at which companies are moving to the cloud and investing in analytics. In fact, more than half of enterprises are accelerating their move to the cloud in light of COVID-19 challenges to their businesses,” said Jeff Spicer, Chief Marketing Officer of Yellowbrick Data. “But what really stands out is that nearly 55 percent of enterprises are looking at a hybrid cloud strategy with a combination of cloud and on-prem solutions. That clearly shows that a cloud-alone strategy is NOT what most enterprises are looking for–and validates what our customers are telling us about their own best practices combining cloud and on-prem approaches to their biggest data infrastructure challenges.”

Social Distancing Index to Understand Pandemic Response

SafeGraph has organized a Consortium for researchers, academics, and government employees who need rapid access to data to better understand the coronavirus pandemic and impact of the response. Members of the Consortium have access to multiple datasets at no cost, including SafeGraph’s social distancing index.

The COVID-19 Data Consortium is available to those working to fight the coronavirus. Join 1,000+ academic groups, government agencies, and task-forces including Harvard, the City of LA, McKinsey, and Brookings, to name a few. Click HERE to join

SAS launches free AI-driven environment to mine COVID-19 research

Globally, thousands of scientists are working tirelessly on COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including the search for new treatments and a vaccine. Analytics leader SAS brings a powerful resource to the fight with COVID-19 Scientific Literature Search and Text Analysis, a free visual text analysis environment that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to quickly search tens of thousands of research articles on COVID-19 and deliver potentially lifesaving answers to these scientists.

Leading research groups have gathered and released to the public more than 50,000 full-text scientific research articles on COVID-19 and other coronaviruses through the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19). The articles include studies on treatment effectiveness, vaccine development, mitigation efforts, genetic analysis, economic impact and more. With so much scientific literature available, it’s impractical – if not impossible – to analyze it all manually.

“Effectively mining unstructured text from scientific literature can take teams of people, many needing deep subject matter expertise, and substantial amounts of time to effectively categorize and determine relevancy,” said Mark R. Cullen, MD, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and Chair of the COVID-19 Research Database Scientific Steering Committee. and John Snow Labs partner to make 2,200 current, linked, and expert-curated healthcare datasets available to COVID-19 researchers & data scientists, the cloud-native data catalog, and healthcare AI & NLP provider John Snow Labs are partnering to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic by sharing data and software for virus researchers.

In light of the current challenge, John Snow Labs is providing free access to datasets, natural language processing (NLP) software, and its AI platform for data scientists working on COVID-19 projects. In addition to supporting collaboration within its open data community, has released a curated collection of open datasets that are crucial to understanding the disease via the Coronavirus Resource Hub.  

“Our goal at is to create the most meaningful, collaborative, and abundant data resource in the world” said Brett Hurt, CEO of “Scientists, analysts, researchers, entire businesses, and others all over the world are working together in to track trends, find clues, and share insights around the pandemic. John Snow Labs’ data and expertise are key contributions to this cause.”

Hyris Brings AI Coronavirus Environmental Testing Kit to U.S.; Johns Hopkins University Seeing Great Results

Hyris, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) applications for advanced diagnostics and creator of the bCUBE—a revolutionary portable DNA analysis platform—announced the availability of its environmental testing kit to analyze Coronavirus environmental contamination in the U.S. The kit was developed in Hyris’ labs, located in Lodi, Italy, the heart of the Italian COVID-19 “red zone.” It identifies contaminated, non-porous hard surfaces on-site or in a distributed deployment, and can produce multiple simultaneous test results in about 90 minutes to allow businesses to validate the effectiveness of their Coronavirus disinfection procedures used in workplaces and customer-facing premises.

“We have been using the Hyris bCUBE to run molecular assays for pathogen detection, and it has provided excellent performance, even when compared with much more expensive instrumentation,” said George Dimopoulos, professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

Information Builders Helps Healthcare Organizations Use Data in Fight Against COVID-19

Information Builders, Inc. (IBI), a leading data and analytics company, announced enhancements to its Omni-HealthData solution and the addition of new data visualizations and interactive dashboards to its COVID-19 Resource Center to help healthcare organizations in the worldwide effort to fight the coronavirus.

“As a leader in data and analytics solutions for healthcare, we have a responsibility to help organizations use data-driven insights in their critical efforts to battle COVID-19,” said Bill Kotraba, vice president, healthcare and strategic solutions, Information Builders. “To be effective in their research, they need to visualize the COVID-19 data from inside their organization as well as clinical and demographic information from outside sources. Armed with these insights, they can track the impact of the virus globally, and identify and proactively support higher-risk patients locally.”

Hitachi Vantara Expands Digital Manufacturing Portfolio as Pandemic Exposes Industry’s Need to Modernize Operations

Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), announced an expanded set of offerings to help manufacturers accelerate Manufacturing 4.0 initiatives and to assist with safely restarting production in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many manufacturers, the pandemic has not only affected worker health and safety, it has impacted demand, interrupted production, exposed vulnerabilities in supply chains, and driven an urgent need to modernize operations. Dramatic variations in production capacity and demand illustrate the new stresses being placed on manufacturing supply chains and production planning: in March 2020, industrial production in the United States experienced the steepest decline since 19461, yet in approximately the same period, daily U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 49%2.

Hitachi Vantara’s new manufacturing practice and its expanded portfolio of digital manufacturing solutions, services and consulting services aims to help manufacturers adapt to these immediate challenges. It also promises to help manufacturers lay the foundations for the digitalization of health, safety and environment (HS&E), asset insights, predictive quality, and operations optimization.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing a litany of challenges for manufacturers that highlight how important unlocking data and digital industrial innovation is to the industry’s future,” said James Destro, general manager, Manufacturing Practice, Hitachi Vantara. “With our powerful IT and OT experience, Hitachi Vantara can uniquely inspire, envision, architect and accelerate digital transformation that solves today’s challenges and prepares manufacturers for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Kogniz Health Launches Comprehensive, All-in-One AI Platform to Help People Get Back to Work Safely

Kogniz, an innovator in security and machine learning, is launching the most comprehensive AI platform available today to help get people back to work and keep them safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Kogniz Health Response Platform is the only automated system that offers no-contact, high-volume temperature screening, contact tracing, social distancing enforcement, mask detection, and more.

“People are eager to resume work,” said Daniel Putterman, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Kogniz. “As we slowly start to reopen communities around the world, employers have an ethical obligation to safeguard employees, guests and their communities. Our solution enables organizations from big box stores to campuses to operate as safely and efficiently as possible.”

Banner Health Innovates with LifeLink Chatbots to Enable Virtual Waiting Rooms for Telehealth and In-Person Appointments

LifeLink announced the successful deployment of a next-generation virtual waiting room with Banner Health.  LifeLink mobile chatbots interact with Banner patients in a conversational style to help complete digitized intake forms, provide education and enable remote check-in capabilities for all telehealth and in-person visits. This is part of Banner Health’s initiative to re-imagine the care delivery experience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The healthcare industry must rapidly innovate in order to ensure all patients can see their doctors again through safe, private, and convenient channels,” said Jeff Johnson, vice president, Digital Business at Banner Health. “The traditional pre-visit process of walking into an office, filling out paper forms, reading instructions, and then waiting for an exam room had to change. LifeLink chatbots have already helped hundreds of thousands of Banner patients navigate Emergency Room visits so the concept of digitizing regular doctor appointment visits with a mobile, virtual waiting room chatbot assistant was a natural extension of the technology.” Releases COVID-19 Data Lake V2, a leading enterprise AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation, announced the addition of 11 new integrated COVID-19 data sets to the™ COVID-19 Data Lake, making it one of the largest pre-integrated and free sources of COVID-19 data in the world. COVID-19 Data Lake offers researchers access to normalized, unified data to accelerate efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

Researchers are in a race to predict the virus’ trajectory, forecast demand for ICU bed capacity, analyze the efficacy of COVID-19 guidelines, support COVID-19 diagnosis, and speed the development of medical treatments. The challenge is that most data are dispersed in a variety of different locations and in unusable formats. Absent rich, integrated data sets, it is impossible to develop meaningful and accurate artificial intelligence models.

The COVID-19 Data Lake – developed by in three weeks and accessible at – is a unified source of comprehensive, integrated COVID-19 data that has made publicly available, at no cost, to global research and scientific communities. The data lake is unique and structurally different from other COVID-19 data collections in that it provides analysis-ready data that researchers can use immediately to enhance new or ongoing COVID projects. 

“With the addition of these 11 important data sets, we are proud to continue enhancing the scope and exponentially increasing the value of the COVID-19 Data Lake as a no-cost resource for the global research community,” said Thomas M. Siebel, CEO of “We are excited by the enthusiastic response among researchers and we are confident that their creativity, innovation, and imaginative use of this resource will yield significant results toward mitigating this and future pandemics.” 

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