Blane Canada needed assistance building a dashboard to provide government leaders data needed to evaluate the economic conditions of their communities, and they needed it fast.
During the summer of 2020, government leaders needed to continually evaluate the economic conditions of their communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They needed to make strategic decisions about how to help businesses, which ones should reopen, what part of the workforce should continue to remain remote, how long that should continue, and so forth. But there was a lack of data on which to base these decisions.
Illinois-based Blane Canada, Ltd., an economic development services firm, and the volunteer, grassroots BR|E (business retention/expansion) COVID-19 Response Network envisioned a way to quickly provide that data.
They created a benchmark survey and follow-up questionnaire to measure the level and severity of the impact and to learn the needs of businesses. The carefully selected questions revolve around the workforce, finances, supply chain, and the future.
However, they needed to gather and deliver this benchmark data, and that would be quite a challenge.
Getting the right technology in place
The COVID-19 Response Network wanted a tool that would allow them to analyze and distribute data on a large scale and free to the public. The group needed a technology partner who would take time to understand the problem, ask the right questions, and build a technology solution against a tight timeline.
Eric Canada, CEO of Blane Canada, was confident that Fusion Alliance, his company’s technology partner of two years, would be the right fit.
He asked if Fusion could build a tool for economic developers to learn the impact of the virus on their business communities. Within two weeks, we had a solution and dashboards up and running, available to the public.
Our team began by evaluating survey platforms to choose the right one for the task. We conducted proof-of-concept testing to see which platforms met all requirements, and then selected a tool. Next, we determined how to standardize and unify data collection. Then we built the survey, sent it out, and enabled other entities to send the survey, as well. That all happened within five days of being approached.
After that, the focus was on how to display the results. Our team suggested something similar to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard, and Canada was on board. A dashboard would allow users to see the story in a visual format and interact with the data.
Working against the clock, we built the dashboard and demoed it a few days later to more than 100 organizations in the growing grass-roots volunteer network.
Two days after the survey was sent, the data began pouring in, and it was aggregated and put into the analytics toolset. The group continues to send surveys and follow-up monitoring questionnaires all over the nation, and the dashboard is constantly updated as more results come in.
Some companies have participated and submitted up to four monitoring surveys, providing more data points.
Fusion Alliance is essential to making a difference for our clients, and, more importantly, for economic developers and communities across the country and beyond.
Eric Canada, CEO, Blane Canada, Ltd.