Tableau Year 3 - Supporting the Pandemic Response

Welcome to the first installment of the Three Years of Tableau blog series. In February, an initial overview was shared highlighting Tableau use over the past three years at Ohio State, along with findings from a January 2022 survey. With this blog series, we’ll dig a little more and share some user testimonials.

If you wanted a point of comparison for how Tableau changed data consumption at Ohio State, think about how streaming changed the consumption of music. With streaming, anyone can instantly share their music library through the web, while allowing recipients to consume their collection as is, or sort it to their liking. Similarly, Tableau allows us to securely share data sets and data visualization dashboards with the Ohio State community either as-is or sorted based on preferences.

And what a coincidence that the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic would emerge at a time when Tableau was becoming a more mature service at Ohio State. For more than 15 months, cross functional employees from across the university partnered to guide the university’s pandemic response by funneling data and Tableau data visualizations to executive team members and the public.

The Safe and Heathy website COVID-19 dashboardsrepresented a watershed moment in how people expected data to be made available to them. Suddenly, users within the Ohio State community and beyond wanted COVID-19 data on-demand that helped explain all aspects of the pandemic from transmission to quarantine, isolation to vaccination, and testing--not only for the student population, but employees too. Can you imagine trying to supply such information in a pre-Tableau world where we’d have to rely on ever-changing Excel spreadsheet links or crude “thermometer style” tracking graphics?

On Jan. 9, 2022, the day before Spring 2022 classes began, there were over 100,000 hits to the COVID-19 dashboards within a 24-hour period. In addition, there have been 1.6 million views of Ohio State's COVID-19 dashboards since August 2020 with a majority of views from outside the university. And notably, news outlets including local TV affiliates 10TV News and ABC News along with The Columbus Dispatch, pointed to our Safe and Healthy website dashboards as information resources for the community and beyond. With these metrics, one must wonder, who would have been providing such information if Ohio State wasn't able to provide it through Tableau?

In the February 2022 initial overview blog post, real-world issues were alluded to as a driver of Tableau's success at Ohio State. There are no better examples of Tableau in the real-world, than the ones provided through testimonials gathered during the university pandemic response. Click to expand the sections beneath the Top-5 Tableau benefits, as shared through the January survey, to read real-world testimonials from Ohio State's COVID-19 pandemic partners.


End User Top-5 Tableau Benefits with Corresponding Testimonials

1 - Faster Response to Change” and 2 - Leverage Technology Change

"When the pandemic first began, buildings across campus were put into a shutdown state to reduce custodial needs, utility costs, and maintenance requirements. In preparation for campus reopening in Autumn 2020, Facilities Operations and Development had to go through a thorough process to safely reopen each building. This process was separated into phases with target dates for completion of each task and each phase. Tasks could range from changing HVAC filters to turning on water to disinfecting space.

We used Tableau in conjunction with our maintenance software and OSU Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visually see on a map of campus, our progress towards reopening, which helped leadership and management at all levels of Operations stay in sync on the cadence of building re-openings.“  

- from Zac Lockwood - Analyst, Facilities Operations and Development

3 - Improve Operational Efficiency

"It’s helped us track and understand a multitude of indicators: uptake and compliance with testing, understanding “who”, utilization of testing resources, locations, and time of day. We have been able to better understand and right-size capacity to respond/pivot in real time, most often feeling data-informed.”

4 - Enable User Collaboration and Learning

"Tableau dashboards have been helpful mechanisms for visual tracking and visual communications regarding the impact of COVID-19 at the university to a broader audience, while maintaining the privacy of individuals through permission-based public, executive, managerial, and operational spaces for user-driven data exploration at enterprise scales.”  

5 - Increase Return on Data Assets

“Provided important resources not only for the general public but for us to better manage, plan and assess the university’s COVID-19 response progress and effectiveness.”  

In Closing

The real-world testimonials help illustrate how the pandemic created a reciprocal relationship between the growing COVID-19 data needs and adoption of the Tableau tool as more data became available for consumption. In the next installment of Three Years of Tableau, we'll review how the Workday implementation was both a catalyst for Tableau usage as well as a supporting character for Workday’s business transformation at Ohio State.

If you have additional questions about the Tableau service, please contact Jimmy Anthony and Maureen Henry.