Just Add Ingenuity

15th April 2020
Esri UK

Just Add Ingenuity

Use out-of-the-box ArcGIS tools and a little imagination to help you respond to the challenges of COVID-19

Ingenuity is emerging as one of the most powerful tools for combating COVID-19.   

Right across the UK, organisations large and small are thinking laterally and coming up with creative ways to use the resources they already have to help improve the nation’s response to this virulent disease. Whisky manufacturers are repurposing their supplies of alcohol to make hand sanitisers; automotive and aerospace manufacturers are using their production lines to make ventilators; and teachers are using equipment in design technology classrooms to make protective face masks for clinicians.  Who would have thought this was even possible just a few weeks ago? 

The speed at which COVID-19 is spreading throughout communities, countries and continents means that there simply isn’t the time to develop new technologies, specify and procure new materials and learn new skills.  Organisations therefore need to be able to take advantage of what they already have, along with readily accessible, out-of-the-box tools that are easy to use and quick to deploy. 

Esri’s ArcGIS includes a host of easy-to-use, web-based and mobile software tools and bespoke solutions that can be put into action very quickly, straight out-of-the-boxwithout the need for custom development Now free of charge to organisations that want to use ArcGIS software and solutions as part of a COVID-19 response initiativethese highly versatile tools can help organisations address some of the most pressing challenges that this crisis has presented so far.  All organisations need is a little imagination – or ingenuity – to see how they can apply this geospatial analysis and visualisation software to the specific challenges they face.   

Meet the needs of vulnerable people 

Voluntary groups, local authorities and healthcare organisations urgently need to pinpoint the locations of vulnerable people within communities and then match them with the nearest volunteers who are available to help them or support services.  One of the world’s largest humanitarian organisations, American Red Cross, uses ArcGIS to identify the locations of people displaced from their homes following storms and floods, on interactive digital maps.  It can then direct emergency food and medical supplies to the right locations as quickly as possible.  Teams working hard to reduce fatalities from COVID-19 can use ArcGIS in the same way to create an interactive map of vulnerable people and ensure they receive the best possible support to keep them safe.

See the American Red Cross presentation from the Esri UK Annual Conference 2019. 

Improve the effectiveness of volunteers 

Having had an overwhelming response from people who are prepared to volunteer during this crisis, local authorities and charities now need to ensure everyone makes a really effective and valuable contribution.  Much can be learned from the pioneering work of a leading conservation charity, which is currently using ArcGIS mobile solutions in a series of pilot projects to enable its volunteers to submit information to a central portal using their smart phones.  Similar ArcGIS apps can be rolled out very quickly, allowing large numbers of volunteers to share information about the specific needs of the shielded and most vulnerable people privately and securely, as well as collect and submit information to help ensure residents get the right support during isolation.   

Monitor the rapidly evolving situation 

Every day, there are new COVID-19 cases, in different locations, fresh requests for help from the vulnerable and, sadly, additional deaths.  ArcGIS provides a way for people to monitor this rapidly evolving situation on interactive maps, so that health advice, volunteer-led support services and emergency care can be directed to the right places, at the right time. Esri ArcGIS Dashboardslike those currently used by large utility companies to respond to emergency call outs, can be quickly set up, providing local authorities, healthcare trusts and voluntary organisations with a real-time overview of the crisis and the insight they need to make rapid, well-informed decisions. 

With every day that passes, the challenges relating to COVID-19 are multiplying.  The challenges above will not be the only ones that society needs to resolve and no one can truly anticipate what will happen next.  However, ArcGIS has the versatility to help all kinds of voluntary groups, public and private sector organisations, the armed forces and government to gain a better understanding of people at risk, the spread of the disease, the locations of support services and the priority need for resources.  It’s ready to go, straight from the box, and it’s free in this crisis.  So all you need is a little ingenuity to discover how it can help you and others to make the best possible decisions and safeguard lives.   

To learn more about the resources available to support your response to COVID 19 please visit out website where you can register for free software. https://www.esriuk.com/en-gb/covid-19/overview 


Miles Gabriel - Esri UK

Miles Gabriel is currently leading Esri UK’s COVID-19 Disaster Response Programme. He is a passionate geospatial data specialist who focuses on helping customers realise the benefits that geography and location can bring to all aspects of their business.