The whole world is seeking a way out of the Covid-19 crisis. New vaccinations are bringing hope, but also posing new challenges for countries: Where, how, to whom, and in what sequence will the valuable serum be distributed? Countries worldwide have started to turn stadiums and other venues into mass vaccination centers to administer the coronavirus vaccine. Data, such as sociodemographic data, forms the basis for decision-making here.

Data plays an important role, not only in location planning for vaccination centers, but also in the health care sector in general. This includes data on the age structure, but also the clustering of particular diseases. The trick is not to collect information, but rather to combine it with the right planning tools and the specific applications. Andreas Lehr, Head of Sales for DDS Digital Data Services GmbH, on of the leading suppliers for geodata, knows exactly what he’s talking about: “We have a lot of sociodemographic data available. But you have to take a closer look: which aspects are important today, how will the population develop, and what will demand look like the day after tomorrow? Different approaches require different planning – and thus different data.”

How detailed does the data have to be?

In Germany, the “Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians” makes medical services available anywhere in the country and guarantees high quality of medical care. That’s why it needs a wide variety of data every day. “In Germany, there is a consensus with the statutory health insurance funds that there should be one general practitioner for every 1,600 inhabitants available”, says Pascal Schöpe, Senior Consultant at the association. Andreas Lehr adds: “We have sufficient coverage by general practitioners. This has come about due more to capacity and distribution planning than due to pure demand planning from the sociodemographic perspective.” To avoid a cluster in popular regions or urban areas, planning has to be detailed.

Pascal Schöpe knows: “With regard to the distribution of doctors, we continuously monitor the entire country. We take many factors into account, including population density, transport links, functional spatial correlation, and the local incidence of disease. Visualization of the data with great spatial granularity is a basic requirement.”

Locations of vaccination centers

These planning mechanisms can also be transferred to business geography – that is, for example, to the question where to set up vaccination centers. This is done by applying the concept of the central function. Vaccination centers have a large catchment area, comparable to furniture stores. By contrast, the distribution of general practitioners should be analyzed in much more detail; for example, like the supply of necessities such as food or drug store items.

“For the distribution of general practitioners, it’s fine to use a 100-meter grid,” explains Andreas Lehr. “Here, our DDS data grid examines areas that are 100 meters on each edge.” For vaccination centers, by contrast, areas that are defined by postal codes are sufficient.

Sociodemographics in street sections

The data only becomes really meaningful if you link it sensibly, e.g. by linking sociodemographic data to a spatial reference. „A good example is street section-related attribute data,” says Lehr. Various attribute data with a spatial reference can be allocated to a fixed area or street section. This includes content that is projected spatially from ‘intersection to intersection’. It can thus be spatially referenced in the street space, such as the distribution of households by size or the people’s purchasing power for work clothing. Such data can be useful for planning after-care after the vaccination. But it also helps to improve geomarketing, which adds the spatial view to the traditional marketing mix.

Geomarketing for optimized coverage of risk groups

Where does geomarketing come into play? “Above all in territory planning,” says Lehr. “And then in potential planning: A vaccination center may only include a limited number of people to be vaccinated. Just as for a sales-driven potential analysis. Optimized coverage of the risk groups is achieved by adding the reference to age here. At the same time, geomarketing tools such as PTV Map&Market can also help plan visits to retirement and care homes or trips for re-vaccination. I believe that the distribution of the vaccination centers itself requires less spatial analysis. The first requirement for centers is space, as in exhibition centers.“

And so the wise planner focuses not just on sociodemographics, but also on the space available, accessibility (proximity to the highway, for example), and the geographic distribution of doctors for after-care. In the end, many aspects are incorporated into a good solution; an approach that is a matter of course for the planning of a corporate strategy, and in sales.

Data in harmony with sociodemographics

Data makes today’s world a little easier to understand. This also refers to professional territory and location planning that is filled with additional data about sales potential, population density and composition or with details about the age pyramid.

Lehr sums up: “There is still great skepticism about uncontrollable mountains of data. But precisely in health care, there are currently sensible, long-term applications for data about sociodemographics and data-based analyses and planning. These enable optimal planning and selection of vaccination sites and in the end, hopefully a fast and fair distribution of all vaccination doses. That’s the heart of our work: Anyone who wants data can get it everywhere. However, we find the data suitable for the application in question and combine it from a wide variety of sources to meet every need.”

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About the Author

Intelligent solutions for mobility are the heart of PTV – and the core of Iras reporting. She writes about #mobility4humanity #smartSolutions4mobility and #cities4people.

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