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Utilising data effectively in the fight against COVID-19

Thousands of organisations – governments, healthcare providers, and businesses – are all asking the same questions as the spread of the virus slows: Which social distancing measures should we relax, when, and at what cadence? How do we prevent future outbreaks and the hike in COVID-19 infection cases globally? If one does occur, what resources will a local area need to stop another outbreak?

Data will answer these questions, and provoke more questions from these organisations, such as: How difficult will it be to acquire this data? Is it analytics-ready? How often is it updated? How much will it cost? Is there one place we can find this data and acquire new data sets as they emerge? Can we easily combine it with the data we own to reveal additional insights previously unavailable to us?

The data providers, and data analytic service providers, continue to step up. They are making available myriad solutions and data sets that rely on data about infection rates, population densities, the impact of social distance measures, and even weather patterns. Every day, new data sets become available for free to help ensure a safe society in the months and years ahead after we gain control of COVID-19 and others like it.

However, these data and solution providers are asking their own questions to make this happen: How do we enable the consumers of these data sets, and at what pace? What data security measures do we need to take? What about data governance and data privacy? How much information can we share and how should we do that?

At the centre of everyone’s efforts is data. Technology companies have been busy enabling solutions and providing free data sets to help fight COVID-19 and to prevent new outbreaks as communities globally begin to relax social distancing measures.

A singular platform and marketplace solution to load, store, integrate, and securely share any amount or type of data is needed to prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 as communities around the world relax social distancing policies.

According to Gartner, data marketplaces will grow to be one of the key trends, such that by 2022, 35% of large organisations will be either sellers or buyers of data via formal online data marketplaces, up from 25% in 2020.

Data marketplaces provide single platforms to consolidate third-party data offerings. These marketplaces provide centralised availability and access to analytics and other unique data sets that create economies of scale to reduce costs for third-party data. To monetise data sets through data marketplaces, data and analytics leaders should establish a fair and transparent methodology by defining a data governance principle that ecosystem partners can rely on.

Paired with live, governed, secure, and instant data sharing as the foundation of its marketplace platform, providers have the ability to share read-only access of these data sets listed on the marketplace. This allows the data to remain live at all times, so data consumers can receive updates immediately from data providers. Additionally, data marketplaces enable data consumers to utilise any of these data sets, providing them with the ability to combine them with their own data to acquire previously unobtainable insights. The data security, governance, and privacy features enable data providers and consumers to adhere to industry and regional data compliance regulations.

Both platform and marketplace are key to enabling these organisations to assemble these applications and data sets, build these tools, and make them available in days, not weeks or months,

so they can have an impact now. They are connecting to each other’s data and tools through data marketplaces to enhance their solutions beyond what’s possible if they had worked in silos.

Protecting humanity, protecting data

To help contain COVID-19 now and in the future, we need easily accessible data and tools that will have an immediate impact on both country and global levels. We also know that protecting the data required to achieve this goal is equally as important. This is why all anonymised COVID-19 data sets should be managed by the organisations that compile them and the third-party organisations they have partnered with to review these initiatives for data accuracy, consent, anonymity, governance, and transience. It is important that technology companies do not own this data. Instead, technology providers need to enable these solutions to make these data sets and tools readily available.

Fully defeating COVID-19 will take much more than data. Yet until we have a vaccine, data will stay at the centre of this effort. Just as important, data sets and tools will help fight the next potential outbreak. Let’s not forget that this is humanity’s fight, albeit a long one, and unlocking the value of data has never been more critical.

Authored by Geoff Soon, Managing Director, South Asia at Snowflake, published in Disruptive Asia.

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