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What does an analytics geek do during a pandemic?

Like everyone else, I'm spending my days in my house with my family. The news is very scary and overwhelming. I'm trying to work my full-time job while dealing with my family being home and in my "office" all the time now (a job that I am extremely happy to still have). (Please note - I'm happy about the family, too ;) ). We are slowly introducing e-learning for two kids and work-from-home for two adults. We learning to share devices, the wifi bandwidth, and our time. We are safe and healthy and working hard to make sure our essential workers have the best chance by doing our part by staying home.

One of the little things that I've done to try to calm myself is to use a new feature of Cognos Analytics (the ability to upload files) to help me make sense of the numbers. This is one of my favorite features of Cognos and one I'm still seeing a lot of big companies turning off for their employees (we can talk about that more later).

There is so much data being generated right now about the numbers of people being tested, the numbers testing positive, the numbers recovered, etc. Initially, I had to scour news stories to find the numbers I wanted to see. Now, my province is posting their own visualizations. I have been downloading this data (or building my own spreadsheets with the data) and uploading it to Cognos. The Uploading feature allows you to take a CSV or Excel file and import that information into Cognos. It's an important feature for business data that isn't readily available in your current systems but it's also a handy way for someone to take data they are interested in (outside of your business) and bring it into a tool they are used to working with (or are trying to learn).

The unofficial numbers for Nova Scotia

Once I've uploaded it, I can add it to a data module. (Want more info on what a data module can do? Check out my coworker Ryan's post on Data Modules). In the data module, I've added one of my favorite new data module things - the ability to do relative time. I added the fiscal calendar data module, set the date to use the calendar as a reference and now I can use the relative time filters in my dashboard.

Then I created a dashboard using the Dashboard tool.

I use the YTD filter on Date to only see up until today. I've added some calculations to the dashboard to get me some percentages (which I could have added to the data module, of course, but for now they are here). I turned on the forecasting feature of Dashboards for the visualizations. I like to see how close the next day's number comes to the forecasted value.

There is something about working with the data myself that makes me feel more connected to it. Our 'stay home' policies in Nova Scotia haven't completely flattened the curve but we are not increasing our cases exponentially. It gives me hope that what we are doing is working.

So, there you go. An analytics geek is going to spend their pandemic making dashboards. I am not alone though - my coworkers at PMsquare have created a much cooler, much more detailed dashboard. You can check it out here:

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