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Racing the clock: Creating a coronavirus data dashboard to measure economic impact

Blane Canada had the data on COVID-19 economic impacts. However, they needed a data dashboard to quickly provide government leaders with timely information. That's where Fusion came in to help.



During the summer of 2020, government leaders needed to continually evaluate the economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on their communities. Having accurate, timely data was essential to making strategic decisions about how to help businesses, determine what businesses could open and which should stay remote, and how long shutdown protocols should remain in effect. Unfortunately, they didn't have access to the data they needed.

Illinois-based economic development services firm, Blane Canada, LTD., partnered with the volunteer grassroots BR|E (business retention/expansion) COVID-19 Response Network to create a way to quickly provide data to government leaders. They created a benchmark survey and follow-up questionnaire consisting of carefully selected questions related to the workforce, finances, supply chain, and future needs and used the responses to measure the level and severity of the economic impact and learn the needs of businesses. 

While they had a large volume of relevant, valuable data, they needed a data dashboard that would allow them to analyze and distribute data and share it freely to the public on a large scale. 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 and asked if our team could build a data dashboard 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 was aware that a solution needed to be launched quickly. We started by evaluating survey platforms and conducting proof-of-concept testing to see which platforms met all the requirements, and then selected the best option for our data dashboard.

With a platform in place, we could determine how to standardize and unify data collection to improve returns and gain more quantifiable data. Our team built the survey, sent it out and also shared it with other entities so they could also send out the survey to businesses in their area. This all took place within five days of Blane Canada, ltd. reaching out to Fusion. 

From there, we turned our focus to displaying the results. We recommended a data dashboard that was similar to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard, and our client agreed. 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 over 100 organizations in the growing grass-roots volunteer network. 

Two days after the survey was sent, they began receiving data which was then aggregated and put into the analytics toolset.  It worked exactly as it should, and the group continues to send surveys and follow-up monitoring questionnaires nationwide, updating the data dashboard as more results come in. Many companies submitted four separate monitoring surveys, providing added data points that government entities and grassroots organizations could use. 


"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.

Two week turnaround from concept to delivered solution
Dashboards help decision-makers benchmark against other similar communities
Scalable solution sets Blane Canada up for future success


Following the rollout of the data dashboard, the grassroots organization worked to have more businesses participate in the survey and make sure more economic decision-makers were aware of the data. The network has grown to over 360 members and continues to grow with members using personal networks and funds to share data to better serve communities both nationally and internationally. 

Meanwhile, from a technology standpoint, the dashboards are being honed and improved as needs are identified. While the raw data is not yet available for downloading, Eric Canada said that is in the works.

At press time, the surveys keep coming in, with more than 6,000 submissions, which Canada said is already a representative sample. He is eager to hit the 10,000+ mark as awareness expands.

“We are a small client. Fusion Alliance didn’t have to pay attention to us or to this special project. But your team responded immediately, throwing support behind us. Fusion is essential to making a difference for our clients and, more importantly, for economic developers and communities across the country and beyond,” Canada reflected.

For now, members of the COVID-19 Response Network continue their hard work, hoping they will one day look back and know that their efforts helped Americans as our country began reconstructing from the economic fallout of this pandemic.

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