January 15, 2020 –
As the COVID-19 pandemic has worn on, so many people are actively monitoring online data dashboards and listening to the news to get a sense of what they should do next – whether that’s regarding holiday plans, school decisions or just understanding whether their ZIP code has been particularly hard hit.
Predictive Analytics Group (PAG) has taken that one step deeper and created a nationwide COVID-interactive dashboard with overlays that are more “predictive” than the standard view. The dashboard enables various industries to make operating decisions in areas such as staffing, plant openings and closings, marketing adjustments, technology investments, PPE purchases and return-to-school decisions.
For example, the database could look at local infection and hospitalization trends within a multi-state hospital system’s operating area and help it develop a hybrid approach to where and how it markets different services ranging from COVID, mental health, surgeries and use of telehealth. It can offer comparisons with other hospitals and within its network.
Predictive Analytics designs strategies for clients by analyzing segments to identify trends from data received from different environments. It was the first non-University of Delaware occupant in the Tower at UD’s STAR Campus and the four-year-old company has been recognized as one of UD’s most promising new ventures two years in a row.
“Data is fun for us,” says Chief Data and Analytics Officer Dee Ridgeway, one of three University of Delaware graduates on the senior leadership team. “We’re happiest when we’re building out dashboards that let us tell a story and speak intelligently on a topic, to go beyond what you hear anecdotally on the news and let the data drive the direction you go.”
Development of the database and dashboard began in late April using data from Johns Hopkins University and the New York Times. It was ready for testing in September, thanks to the programming efforts of two UD student interns double-majoring in entrepreneurship and statistics who were hired for the project.
Where possible, PAG hires students from UD (and other local colleges), which isn’t surprising considering that Dee Ridgeway, CEO Stephen Hoops and Managing Director-US Operations Dave LaRoche graduated together in 1998 and worked together at MBNA America and other companies before deciding to go into business together. Beyond its on-campus location, PAG has built a strong relationship with UD, including Ridgeway’s service as a board member on the Horn Program at UD, which is ranked among the best in the nation for entrepreneurial studies and a big supporter on COVID-19 initiatives.
“Our strength has always been making underdeveloped ideas work, and we often talked about how great it would be if we could do that with great ideas,” Ridgeway said. “The challenge here is there are just so many moving pieces for COVID that you have to account for.”
The team has built in a range of scenarios that could help a client make faster business decisions or identify risks. The dashboard utilizes a proprietary database that is designed to allow custom industry views/overlays such as hospital systems, hotels, tourism, sports, retirement locations and education (colleges, public schools).
“You can choose what you want to look at,” Ridgeway says. “We can overlay events [such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or a political rally] – we call them stressors – and tell you what the potential impact could be. We think it could help bring data to decisions about bringing people back to stadiums or how you [protect the public at] a larger event.”
The next phase of the project will focus on creation of a vaccine dashboard that could help states and municipalities decide where to prioritize distribution. A vaccine dashboard will help provide analytics on the vaccine effectiveness and penetration in the country, which can be especially helpful given multiple vaccines are in production. In addition, the team is considering next steps around obtaining funding and monetizing the database so that further enhancements like the vaccine dashboard can be produced and shared.
According to Hoops, who was one of the Delaware Business Times’ 2020 People to Watch, PAG is well-established within the financial services, gaming and marketing worlds today – and they have a collective 120-plus years of experience in financial services and marketing.
“Gaming took time building contacts, our reputation and some pro-bono work to establish ourselves,” Hoops told the publication. “Healthcare and sports are moving well today, but had similar hurdles early on. As we grow cross-vertically, we are starting to see less ‘time to market’ from initial contact within an industry to a first paid engagement.”