How COVID-19 Data Portal Became a Community Project in Rocklin, California!

I started a COVID-19 Data Portal for the U.S. to understand the impact of COVID-19 in our nation, states, and counties. This project grew from our Rocklin based tech company to a community project with contributors!

Kabir Mohammed
Apr 13 · 5 min read
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Sign Credit: Mrs. Leppek

ust the other day, on the way back from an “essential” errand, I saw this sign of hope that one of my neighbors had put up on the front gate! Hope is the most powerful word in any language. Once you have hope, you are unstoppable. Be safe, everyone! We will get through this together!

We are all aware of the impact of COVID-19 in our personal, professional, and business lives. Most of us are following the shelter-in-place order by our local government, and thank goodness that we are slowly but surely seeing signs of hope everywhere. Amid a large crisis of this nature, we often rediscover and reconnect with the true nature of our humanity — filled with kindness and desire to help fellow human beings. People come together when times are hard.

As we are all playing our part in keeping social distancing going strong in California, I noticed how quickly many of my neighbors on Nextdoor started creating various helpful community projects to help each other and the most vulnerable. Some started creating home-made masks and leaving them at their doorsteps to be picked up by others.

Some started doing errands, shopping, for elderly and other folks who might be at a higher risk of COVID-19 infections.

The conversations of these efforts were popping up on my screen as I was trying to gauge what I could do to help.

I had no masks to give or means to make a mask with fabrics. So I decided to create my mask using plain paper. I made a silly video of how this would work on YouTube.

As I was thinking about how to help, I was also getting a bit frustrated with all the different websites and news outlets I was tracking to get information on COVID-19. There was hardly any single source that had all the details I wanted to explore.

This was when I wanted to have all the COVID-19 data about the U.S. in a single location. I found the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 data portal to be very useful.

But it was staying at a very high level — countries and states, and I wanted to dig deeper into counties and cities and towns.

After a few days of intense work on finding sources, my team and I put together a website at rockl.in, a site I use for all my community projects for Rocklin.

Then I shared the website with my Nextdoor neighbors, who immediately liked the site. I offered to send them a daily reminder email to visit the site. A few dozen neighbors signed up immediately.

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My Original Post about the Site on Nextdoor App

Then came the data analyst types. These neighbors were brilliant and a quick study with the data being posted on our site. They quickly realized that the data appeared inconsistent. So I explained to them that we were collecting the original data from various sources. And we ourselves had noticed the inconsistencies. So I put out a big disclaimer on nearly every page on the site so that we can avoid more questions.

Then some of these neighbors jumped in to help with the site. They provided ideas about how to make the data easier to consume for most people. One such neighbor is Jeff Duncan.

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Jeff Duncan

Jeff (53) is a Business/Data Analyst who began his career in the U.S. Air Force Intelligence Community, where he received multiple commendations, NCO of the Year 1993, and was an active participant in ending the Cold War and ending the tyranny of the USSR. Since then, he’s lived in Placer County (Rocklin), where he worked for an SMB Wholesale/Distributor delivering a broad range of IT services, including Business Intelligence developer, disaster preparedness & recovery primary, general operations efficiency, accounting analysis, and problem resolution, sales and marketing research, and meeting/group facilitator.

Jeff believes that #dataliteracy needs to be embraced in the 21st Century, the same way reading was at the outset of the 20th Century. Jeff can be reached at Jeff.Duncan@rockl.in.

With Jeff’s help, we brought in moving average views in our reports. These new reports presented a very hopeful picture of the future of beating the virus. We were seeing a flattening of the curve as we looked at various levels of moving averages.

Up to this point, I have been only sharing the site link in my email in place of my regular email signature. This led to more and more people finding out about the site. Jeff also started sharing with friends and family and colleagues.

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Google Analytics Report

Soon the local elementary school Principal, Mrs. Shari Anderson, shared the site in her Spring Update email newsletter to all the parents.

So the community-spread (“no pun intended”) of the site began. Bear in mind, Rocklin is a tiny town of 67K people, so reaching nearly 4% of the population and/or their friends elsewhere in the country is not a small feat for a community effort that is only a few weeks in the making!

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Top-10 locations where visitors come

I am very humbled and thankful that my neighbors are using something that my team and I made with feedback and guidance from great neighbors like Jeff Duncan, Rick Anderson, and many more who have encouraged our efforts.

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Neighbor Rick sharing the site with others!

In these strange times, we are all facing a common enemy — worldwide. In such a sense, we all need to act neighborly and be available to help each other with everything we can. This is the real test of humanity in us; we must take to the efforts that bring us closer to our humanity; otherwise, the pesky virus might as well win!

Be safe, and be kind!

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