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When Data Impacted 40 Million Lives & Helped India Plan Amid the Pandemic.

SAS India leveraged its technology to assimilate data that could support evidence-based policymaking and governance, especially in Odisha.

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This article has been sponsored by SAS.


Long and winding queues in front of hospitals, overflowing intensive care units, multiple patients sharing the same hospital bed at a time and files after files of data piling up in government offices — India’s healthcare and public infrastructure was bursting at its seams during the pandemic. A chaotic situation, similar to that in many countries, the pandemic which pushed most of us at the edge by posing a global crisis, also created an opportunity for innovation.

It is always in the moments of such acute adversity and desperation that we find the motivation to take extraordinary measures to find solutions. These solutions had to be quick and with the potential to impact the masses irrespective of their geographical situation or economic access.

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And Odisha is a model example of that.

Odisha COVID-19 Dashboard Project

At a time when most of the states were grappling with the tide of COVID-19 cases, the Odisha state government identified technology to be its chariot against the wave and initiate a rapid response. The state government used big data and advanced analytics to monitor COVID-19 cases, implement and enforce social distancing, allocate medical resources and multiply the capacity for testing and treatment, through a unified data portal.

“Odisha is pushing the frontiers of digital transformation by investing in emerging technologies such as big data and advanced analytics. We looked at COVID-19 as an opportunity to leverage data to take proactive decisions and remain one step ahead in our war against the pandemic. And that marked the genesis of the Odisha COVID-19 dashboard which is accepted today as the single version of truth for citizens and administrators alike,” says Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary, Electronics & Information Technology Department, Government of Odisha in a report published in Times of India.

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However, implementing a unified data portal for data collection and analysis in a country like India is a daunting task, owing to its humongous population. Hence to ensure smooth functioning and error-free operations, the Odisha government collaborated with a global company specialised in data analytics called SAS and CSM Technologies, to launch the one-of-its-kind COVID-19 Dashboard project.

An interactive dashboard with dynamic data visualisation, this platform uses various graphs, charts, lists, diagrams and more to provide the most recent on-ground statistics on COVID-19. This dashboard, by capturing key matrices for COVID-related data, depicts the spread, location, demographics and analysis of cases on a granular level.

Technology That Saved Lives

Leveraging their technology, CSM and SAS India helped provide real-time information about the availability of beds and other medical facilities in hospitals and also the data on doctors and healthcare providers who could prioritise issues when escalated. This in turn supported evidence-based policymaking and governance for Odisha.

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“A simple visual representation along with drill-down capabilities allowed the decision-makers to understand the situation instantly. The insights from our dashboard and stimulation capabilities allowed different government departments to collaborate better and establish transparent communication channels with the citizens to enable and empower them with the power of data,” says Noshin Kagalwalla, vice president and managing director of SAS India.

Farmer Sujay Shukla from a small village in Odisha is one such example who benefited greatly from the dashboards’ last-mile approach.

“Both my mother and father tested positive for COVID-19 and their condition deteriorated by the day. It was clear that they had to be admitted to the hospital but amid all the chaos even finding a hospital bed was difficult. At that time I sought help on the COVID-19 dashboard of the Government of Odisha and found accurate real-time information about the availability of hospital beds and other medical facilities. Access to such information was extremely valuable and thanks to this my parents were admitted on time and are progressing now,” he says.

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Accessible in both English and Odia, this dashboard has experienced traffic from 123 countries with an average of 40,000 hits a day and has impacted the lives of over 40 million people in the state. One of the best functioning government-run dashboards in the country, the efficacy of SAS India’s technology helped Odisha fight the pandemic and be listed among the top 3 states with accurate and timely COVID data reporting, according to a study by Stanford University.

This initiative undertaken by SAS India is an extension of the company’s Data for Good movement that is focused on employing data in meaningful ways that have an impact on humanitarian issues like healthcare, poverty, human rights, environment and education.

Here’s a video that delves into the intricacies of this innovation and its massive impact:

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