Administrators hope automatic dashboard updates will eliminate data reporting errors

A+sign+on+the+window+of+Emerson%27s+coronavirus+testing+site+at+Tufts+Medical+Center.

Media: Domenic Conte

A sign on the window of Emerson’s coronavirus testing site at Tufts Medical Center.

By Charlie McKenna, Deputy News Editor

Emerson’s COVID-19 dashboard is now updated automatically after a string of data reporting errors appeared on the page since its inception in August.

When the college first launched the dashboard, administrators opted to input data collected from the Broad Institute, the center that provides and processes Emerson’s tests, manually through then-weekly updates. That manual reporting process, led by the college’s web services department, often led to inaccuracies in the data reported on the dashboard, according to an earlier statement from the college to The Beacon. 

Over the course of almost a month, Sept. 9 to Oct. 7, testing data was incorrectly reported 33 percent of the time—seven out of the 21 days data was tracked, a Beacon investigation found.

The shift to automatic updates came as part of an effort to report more accurate testing data, “COVID Lead” and Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp said. 

“Folks have asked, ‘Why don’t you automate it?’” he said in an interview. “To be able to reflect the most accurate [data] after we were going through those early difficulties of numbers going up and down within certain time periods—automation would help with that.”

We stand for community, fact-based journalism. What do you stand for?

Some things in life are essential; they touch us every single day. Good journalism is one of those things. It keeps us in the know as we hurry through our busy lives.

Since the switch to automatic updates on Oct. 13, none of the data reported by the college has been inaccurate. The only discrepancy across the two weeks is in the time the dashboard is updated, often claiming that new data was published before it was viewable on the website.  

Muurisepp said the college intends to update the dashboard by 2 p.m. every day, when test results from the Broad Institute are delivered by Care Evolve, the company responsible for communicating data to the college. 

The college originally opted for a manual update process because of the systems already built by Instructional Technology.  

“In the beginning, we were getting the data from the Broad and going through a manual process,” Muursiepp said. “That is what we started with, and then as the dust settled and we saw the need for automation.”