In our Data and Decision-Making course this semester, we have learned about a variety of processes and tools for organizations to use in order to analyze data and make the best decisions possible for any given situation. Some of these items include things such as the decision-making model, types of analytics approaches, data analytical methodologies, how to properly frame a problem, big data analytics, predictive analysis, presentation and action, creative intelligence, and much more. For this assignment, I have decided to analyze the United States Government and their use of these tools and data in decision-making in response to the COVID-19 virus that is currently impacting the entire world. Although many of the examples that we have observed throughout this course related primarily to ordinary businesses, these processes can also apply for organizations such as the US Government and other governments around the world, just as well. During this time, many countries all over the world must come together and share information quickly and accurately in order to make the right decisions that could potentially make the difference in saving millions of lives.
In order to accomplish such an incredible task, the countries can begin by using the decision-making model to organize their thoughts on how to make the right decisions and navigate through this crisis. Recently the US and many other countries were forced to make some very difficult decisions like restricting travel, shutting down businesses, asking citizens not to gather in groups and even a full out quarantine in some areas. Overall, these decisions unfortunately have had a largely negative impact on the economy and stock market for the US in particular. However, before any of these decisions were made final, the US government has been checking in with organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for guidance in this situation. For example, a recent New York Times article explains how the C.D.C has recently recommended there to be no gatherings of people in groups of 50 or more until the spread becomes more controlled. The article continues on to mention that “The C.D.C. said that its recommendation, which would drastically change life in the United States for the next two months, does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses and added that it was not intended to supersede the advice of local health officials.”
Coronavirus Live Updates: New Restrictions on International Travel Brings Chaos to Many
Airports. (2020, March 15).
Although the C.D.C have left this final decision to local health officials, many states, if not all, have decided to adhere to these recommendations and shut down businesses and schools. The decision-making process that we have learned about this semester was definitely used by health officials to determine the issue, gather the right information, identifying any possible alternatives they could have made, weigh the evidence and from there take action and follow through with the plan. As I have mentioned earlier, many of these decisions are driven by data in order to slow the spread of this virus and the best way we have been told to fight against this is to isolate yourself from others as much as possible. Social distancing has been a new term to describe the trend for many Americans as we practice giving more physical space to everyone in order not to spread this virus.
As this virus became known in China around late December 2019, many health officials began to track this spread and use analytic techniques to try and determine some things about the COVID-19 virus. In our class notes earlier in the semester, we have discussed seven different types of data analytics that organizations use to help solve an issue like this. In the case of the coronavirus, the C.D.C, WHO and many other health organizations looked to older information from different pandemics and examined the many viruses that have occurred in the past and how those were treated. From there, the US government can utilize predictive analytics and begin to notice some patterns of what actions we should take or what not to do and the final decisions that need to be made to fight this virus. Hypotheses-driven analytics is also used here to help determine how this virus is different from the others that we have data on and how we can try to mitigate the spread and overall deaths that will occur from this. A recent article from the University of Michigan health blog have shared some historical data provided by the C.D.C explaining how if we do not act quickly to implement proper social distancing and a quarantine in specific areas, then this virus could completely overwhelm the medical system to where they would not be able to treat any more patients. This information is displayed in the graph shown below: Gavin, K. (2020, March 11)
Also mentioned in this article is that “If individuals and communities take steps to slow the virus’s spread, that means the number of cases of COVID-19 will stretch out across a longer period of time. As the curve shows, the number of cases at any given time doesn’t cross the dotted line of the capacity of our nation’s health care system to help everyone who’s very sick.” Unfortunately, some countries such as Italy were late to analyze this data and implement social distancing and have already began reaching this point where they are experiencing a large number of deaths from the virus because of it.
Analytical Data Methodologies
Another topic that we have discussed in class are analytical data methods such as trend analysis and predictive analysis. These methodologies are also being used by the US government to analyze the spread of this virus, not only through the US but around the world, as well as what decisions need to be made to protect American citizens. As I have explained earlier, Italy was quickly overwhelmed with a major outbreak of the virus in a rapid amount of time however, other countries were able to analyze this data quickly and make adjustments on their own to protect their citizens. One trend analysis graph from the world economic forum site shows how many more cases Italy has than many other European countries located near Italy and also how the United States compares as well. Buchholz, K., & Statista. (n.d.)
Although it is extremely difficult to predict the spread of this virus for certain, analyzing this trend data from March 19th, 2020 can help to prevent the spread in the US or at least prevent us from reaching the levels that Italy is currently experiencing. Other predictive analysis methods are being performed such as in the graph shown from the U of M health site explaining how social distancing and self-quarantine behavior can most likely help to slow the spread of the illness.
Big Data and the use of AI
We have seen throughout this course the many potential benefits of Big Data and how this can help organizations analyze issues that otherwise may not have been noticed before. Big Data can help companies to implement better decision making, improve customer satisfaction, increase innovation, increase supply chain activities, improve sales and more. Our lecture notes describe this concept further by explaining that Big Data is usually characterized by the volume, variety, velocity and veracity of data, or otherwise known as the 4 V’s. Ciaramitaro, B. L. (n.d.).
In the example I am using for this assignment about the coronavirus, many countries around the world including the US are in need of a way to analyze data but they are unable to use humans to scan through this information fast enough. Many countries, including the US have now began implementing artificial intelligence into the fight against the COVID-19 virus. We are beginning to use AI to scan data sets to help speed up the process for finding a vaccine, helping to predict and prevent the spread further than what has already occurred. According to the article from IEEE Spectrum, there are a few tech companies who are leading the fight by using “deep learning models to predict old and new drugs that might successfully treat COVID-19”. Scudellari, M. (2020, March 19).
Another topic that we have learned about this semester is predictive analysis, the applications for predictive analysis and also predictive analysis techniques. As many examples from our class lecture and textbooks have described, companies are able to use predictive analysis to their advantage by preparing themselves for what is to come down the road. Some of the predictive analytic techniques that we have learned about include predictive modeling, time series forecasting, linear regression and decision trees. Many of these techniques that we have studied are also being used by the US government to help provide information to the citizens. The US government and other countries around the world are all using techniques such as predictive modeling as I have explained a bit earlier to research similar events from the past to see how we can use that data to help us navigate through this current issue. Also, they will use time series forecasting to help analyze potential scenarios where we may be able to fight back against the spread of the virus. The time series forecast will help to provide us with a longer vision to see ultimately what decision will save the most lives. Also, linear regression is used to provide insight to who this virus is primarily impacting. With a linear regression model, we are able to plot data points such as age and time taken from known infection to recovery to determine the best possible methods for preventing the spread further and eventually creating a vaccine. Lastly, decision trees can be useful to help determine the effects or the impact of critical decisions that need to be made by the US and many other world governments. The decision tree can help to visualize the big picture scenario and what decisions may ultimately lead to higher risk or lower risk outcomes and the steps needed to get there.
Know your Audience
Something that I found interesting is that during a time where the entire world is being impacted by a pandemic is how important it can be for us to remember to prepare results and findings in such a way that the audience or the citizens of the country can understand what is truly occurring and they can do their part to help. I think that anytime there is a situation that is sprung upon people, it tends to cause some stress but combine that with a virus that is spreading across the world and a lot of misinformation that can be spread very quickly that then cause some people to go into a panic. This can be true for typical companies or larger organizations as well such as world governments. As we have learned in class this semester the importance and need to understand your audience when presenting information can be the difference that makes a bad situation not as bad or possibly much worse if not communicated properly. Recently many businesses have been shut down, schools closed possibly for the remainder of the school year in some areas and even full out quarantine in some areas as well. These decisions are not taken lightly and the best way to follow through with this plan of action is to get everyone to understand why there is a need to shut down operations for a short time in order to save lives in the long run. If people are unaware of how this impacts them or their communities, they are less likely to abide by these requests and therefore weaken the plan of attack against this virus. During times of high stress, it can be common for people and organizations to act out of emotion and fear, but this is actually the incorrect way to operate and will most often lead to failure. The way in which an organization should operate in times of high stress is they should make solid decisions about the plan of attack by focusing on straight facts and logic to determining the best possible actions to take toward the best solution. This can then be determined by analyzing the data and the straight facts at hand then coming to a logical conclusion as to how to proceed.
Another topic that we covered in class that can be extremely useful when brainstorming ideas on how to solve new problems is creative intelligence. Our class notes mention the four stages of creative analytical thinking that can directly map onto many of the other stages of quantitative analysis as well. These stages of creative thinking include preparation, immersion, incubation and insight. When thinking of ways to fight and prevent the spread of a deadly virus, the US government and many other organizations around the world had to think creatively and quickly to come up with unique solutions to solve many of the issues we are facing currently. Here in the US, many hospitals don’t have enough medical equipment such as ventilators or proper masks to wear to prevent against the coronavirus. Being that international travel has been shut down as well, this creates a huge barrier for our global supply chain and therefore impacts many people in many different countries. The US government and many organizations have to get creative and be willing to be flexible and help each other out in times like this to get the economy back on its feet.
Overall, the world is experiencing a very unique time currently where we are all impacted in a big way by a virus that is causing many disruptions in our normal lives. Many of the processes and topics that we have discussed throughout this course have helped me to better understand the many ways organizations are able to use data to make decisions. These decisions can be critical to the success of the company or in this case, it can determine potentially if we are able to get a handle on this virus to prevent many more illnesses and deaths. So far, the world governments seem to be working together in a fair manner in order to resolve this issue, but I just hope that the leaders of these governments stick to a logical plan and try not to let emotions influence their ultimate decisions.
- Buchholz, K., & Statista. (n.d.). Upward trajectory or flattening curve? This is how countries are faring with COVID-19 cases. Retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/upward-trajectory-flattening-curve-how-countries-are-faring-coronavirus-covid-19/
- Ciaramitaro, B. L. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://moodle.walshcollege.edu/mod/url/view.php?id=732559
- Coronavirus Live Updates: New Restrictions on International Travel Brings Chaos to Many
- Airports. (2020, March 15). Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/coronavirus-live.html
- Gavin, K. (2020, March 11). Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does It Mean and How
- Can You Help? Retrieved from: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/flattening-curve-for-covid-19-what-does-it-mean-and-how-can-you-help
- Scudellari, M. (2020, March 19). Retrieved from: https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/artificial-intelligence/medical-ai/companies-ai-coronavirus