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Tech and Data showing us what is happening with COVID-19.

Updated: Apr 28

In the last issue of the Dirt we discussed Big Data and its impact on the real estate industry. We took the position that the question facing established real estate companies, isn’t ‘should I embrace data analytics?’, the question is ‘how do I engage technology to maximize my data?’. In continuing our theme on data, COVID-19 is showing how some of these new technologies and data companies are providing insights that are being used by health experts, governments and asset owners to make decisions from a business perspective and public policy perspective (and honestly some of these graphs, technologies and data collections are just really cool and we wanted to share them with you).

(1) Placer.AI provides an unprecedented visibility into consumer foot traffic. Placer.ai was designed to help retailers get insights into consumer behavior in any physical place, through an understanding of human movement, audiences and competition. The online tool harnesses mobile data from tens of millions of devices, and then applies artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics to generate insights and behavioral predictions for any location, store, or geographic area. Clients can use the platform to uncover visitor numbers by hour, day and month; while tapping into benchmarking data and market share information.


Placer.ai have made their COVID-19 Retail Impact Tracker publicly available. The below chart tracks the number of confirmed COVID cases to the percentage change (year over year) of foot traffic to Costco (many major brands are available) across the US. You can see from the graph the panic shopping that occurred as COVID started to make US landfall. Importantly, data like this might help retail asset owners make decisions when life returns to normal.



(2) Kinsa Health, which produces internet-connected thermometers, first created a national map of fever levels on March 22 and was able to confirm that social distancing measures were working within a day. Using the data they receive on a daily basis they are able to quickly identify COVID hotspots. Kinsa’s tracking of fevers in Miami-Dade County in Florida showed an even more pronounced trend (than government and health officials were aware of, and the company had tried to raise the alarm). Why is this important? Until a vaccine is developed, we are likely to be facing waves of infection of COVID. Engaging with this type of technology, allows business to have greater insight into health mitigation strategies that can affect them going forward, allowing for more certainty in planning and preparedness.



(3) Truvalue Labs — an ESG data group — has launched a new data-tracking site for a quantitative take on how COVID-19 is impacting ESG. The data set uses new proprietary signals, developed to capture the impact of COVID-19 in real-time through material categories defined by the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board™ (SASB™). Currently, COVID-19 represents more than 60% of all ESG information captured by Truvalue Labs on a daily basis (from virtually zero in mid-January), and the massive growth in volume denotes the emergence of five material issues: employee health and safety; labor practices; access and affordability; product quality and safety; and supply chain management (see chart above). Pairing the outcome of these signals with ESG and using the SASB Materiality framework can be a helpful tool in identifying new investment opportunities.




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