Salesforce, along with its subsidiaries MuleSoft and Tableau, recently launched a collection of tools designed to aid organizations in the development of safe back-to-work strategies and emergency response projects in an effort to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These new offerings include a COVID-19 Data Platform and a Crisis Response Developer Portal.
(Disclosure: MuleSoft was acquired by Salesforce in 2018 and MuleSoft is the parent company to ProgrammableWeb)
ProgrammableWeb spoke with Liam Doyle (Senior Vice President, Product Management at Salesforce) and Uri Sarid (MuleSoft CTO) about the announcement and discussed some of the challenges facing all parties involved in combatting the pandemic and how they believe that the new Data Platform and Crisis Response Developer Portal can help accelerate the development of related solutions. Liam Doyle discussed Salesforce’s role in several communities and how data fragmentation can be a limiting factor in developing impactful solutions:
“When we think about the communities that we serve as Salesforce, the analyst community through Tableau, the developer community through MuleSoft, and through the Salesforce platform, we just noticed that the data that people are going to need to increasingly rely on in order to make good decisions as we go through the next phase of this crisis was highly fragmented”
Doyle went on to highlight three of the platform’s initial data sources (The New York Times, EUCDC, and the COVID Tracking Project) and noted that they all have entirely different schemas. As a result, aggregating this data can be challenging for organizations to get right and the hope is that by handling this initial roadblock Salesforce’s users can get a jumpstart on advancing solutions.
Doyle acknowledged that the aggregate data is only as valuable as its source. When asked how the initial sources were selected he noted that the choices were based on “... feedback we had from organizations, whether they were Tableau analysts, customers in our Tableau community, or our own developers, about what were some of the primary data sources that were most important.”
The COVID-19 Data Platform is the summation of these efforts, including “the curation, the harmonization, standardization, storage, and then ultimately making that data available in all the formats it's needed.” Salesforce seems committed to providing broad exposure to these resources, with the data currently available via the MuleSoft Anypoint Exchange, the Tableau Public repository, the AWS Data Exchange, and more. Additionally, there are plans for the data to be integrated internally with specific mention of Work.com and Salesforce Health Cloud.
Currently, the platform features an Endpoint dedicated to case tracking data, with plans for this data to be expanded to provide the potential for more granular analysis. Doyle noted specifically more detailed data globally from markets including Japan and Australia, France, Germany, and Brazil. Moving forward, the plan is to add additional endpoints. Doyle told ProgrammableWeb that next up is a predictive data model coming via academic institutions like M.I.T., Los Alamos, and the University of Texas.
The Crisis Response Developer Portal not only leverages the APIs and data models produced via the COVID-19 Data Platform, but it also provides a centralized location for myriad developer resources ranging from healthcare Integration assets to curated third-party APIs. Uri Sarid spoke to the general value of application networks in his explanation of the role that the Developer Portal plays:
“An application network is a situation where you have the assets that you need in order to connect things, and all you need to do is to connect them. So in that sense, putting out as many assets as possible and leaving them non-proprietary, makes sure that the assets are more likely to be there when somebody wants to consume something, they don't have to worry about barriers to entry.”
Additionally, the plan is for the Crisis Response Developer Portal to feature customer projects. Sarid noted that “The intent is really to offer a place where partners and others can feel free to collaborate on sharing those resources.” Although no projects have been selected yet, thousands of visualizations have already been created using the data on Tableau.