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Data in the Time of COVID-19

June 2021

Published onJun 30, 2021
Data in the Time of COVID-19

The reliance upon medical, economic, and other experts during the COVID-19 pandemic is greatly recognized. Still, the need for immediate data and information to support decision-making was not readily or easily met in the early days. Specialists in all areas rely on real-time data on infection rates, access to health care, economic impacts, etc. Data librarians and specialists rose to the challenge to help disseminate and assist with understanding the fast-paced release of data during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, researchers, policymakers, and health care professionals are used to waiting for data to be released after traditional processing. However, the need for real-time data was urgent, as well as information to establish trends. Collaboration between Canadian university librarians quickly established much-needed products: summary data for infection and baselines for further research, reposting of Statistics Canada Data Liberation Initiative data in a usable format (within four hours as opposed to days), using listservs to answer queries efficiently, and the creation of instructional materials for newly accessible data products. The importance and contributions of libraries and front-line personnel go hand in hand during this pandemic. - AA

Mihail Andreev:

Flowers to Russia It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime event, and speed was critical. I think a lot was learned from that crisis, and I’m hoping that next time around, we will be more efficiently sharing data in a quicker fashion.