Much like every other business in the world, the last few weeks have been an unprecedented time for Emu Analytics, as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe and throws up health and economic challenges, for which very few were prepared.
Whilst no two businesses are the same, this post is an account of our experience to-date.
For those who don’t know us that well, Emu Analytics is a micro-SME (less than 10 employees) that creates map-based data visualisation software.
We have a small office in Farringdon, London that we rent from our friends Space Syntax, that typically 3 or 4 of us work from on a daily basis.
Little over a month ago, just before the UK lockdown, we had multiple activities going on:
- We had an intern, Tatsu, over from Japan working with us in our London office
- Alice was midway through a journey to cycle across Africa
- We were reaching the concluding stages of a corporate accelerator with Go-Ahead group (a bus and train operator)
- We were about to start work on another project with IAG (British Airway’s parent company) and were finishing the delivery of an instance of our Flo.w Platform to Heathrow
- Martine was also getting ready to join UK’s Dept of International Trade on a smart cities trade mission to Brazil
Fast forward a few weeks, and the team have had to quickly adapt to working from home.
In this respect we were quite lucky. Even during normal times, most of the team work remotely, so it was only the London team who were deprived of their normal workplace. However, one of the London-based team, Robin, lives on canal boat, which is obviously a very small space to both live and work from in isolation.
Tatsu, who had been interning with us for a month at this stage, was sadly recalled immediately back to Japan by his Japanese employer, just prior to the formal UK lockdown.
Alice, who was on her bike in Kenya at the time, was faced with the problem of borders quickly closing across Africa, and it became apparent that it was a very real risk that she may become trapped overseas, so had to abandon her journey to Victoria Falls, 3 weeks short of her destination.
The trade mission to Sao Paulo was also sensibly postponed indefinitely, so Martine hasn’t made it to Brazil yet.
As is common knowledge, many of industries and companies that we mentioned that we were working with during Feb have been significantly impacted by the situation, with aviation and public transport being particularly affected.
Sadly, but understandably the much-anticipated concluding presentations to Go-Ahead’s Billion Journey Project, that were due to take place at the London Transport Museum, have had to be postponed for several months. We are hopeful that this event will be able to take place in some capacity in late summer or autumn.
However, IAG Cargo (the sister company to British Airways that manages freight) continue to carry critical cargo on their reduced flights out of Heathrow, and it was great to hear that their operations team are continuing to use our software on a daily basis to manage the movement of their cargo tugs at Heathrow.
Whilst the anticipated next phases of work with IAG’s innovation team, and indeed the work with Heathrow, have had to take a back seat whilst the aviation sector implements its own strategies to get through this period, we have remained pretty busy. As such, we have been fortunate to not deem it necessary to furlough staff, and hope that this will remain the case throughout the pandemic. We will obviously continue to keep a close look at how the business evolves over the coming months, recognising that potential impacts to an enterprise software business might be further downstream.
A number of people have inquired as to whether we have produced any maps relating to the COVID-19 crisis, as we are known for producing data visualisation and mapping software.The answer is yes, we have, but we decided not to publish them. They use the same data as is publicly available and is already presented within a number of freely accessible online maps. We didn’t feel we would therefore be contributing anything to the broader effort of understanding the impacts of the pandemic, and didn’t want to use the situation to just market our products, so chose to only share them to organisations that specifically asked for access to them.
However, if you or your organisation has a genuine need to have a look at these, then please drop me an email and we can enable private access to them.
Product Evolution of Flo.w
Whilst some of our client projects may have dwindled a little, we are fortunate to still be working with the likes of EDF Energy (following our success on their accelerator programme in 2019) and in parallel we have taken this opportunity to move our own product roadmap forward.
We’ve just released the next full version of our Flo.w platform, designed to work with big and fast geospatial data from networks, sensors and transport systems. The brand new release is built specifically to make it much easier for organisations such as consultancies and systems integrators to be able to much more easily implement and adapt Flo.w for their clients, reducing the reliance upon Emu Analytics’ small delivery team to successfully implement and operate. This could be a game-changer for Flo.w, so if you are from a consultancy organisation and would like to hear more detail as to how you might be able to benefit from this, then please reach out to me or our business development team firstname.lastname@example.org
We also finished editing a case study video that we filmed with the team from London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, outlining the value that they get from our second product, Location Insights Explorer (LINE). You can see the video here, and as we’ve mentioned many times in the past, you can access their publicly accessible instance of LINE here lbbd.gov.uk/boroughdataexplorer
So whilst these are unprecedented times, and we are having to adapt to working individually (physically at least), the Emu team is keeping busy, and hope to be able to emerge on the other side, in what will quite possibly be a different world.
Our thoughts go out to anyone who’s lives have been affected by the virus, and we salute all those critical workers who are bravely keeping the health and key services operating throughout. Our primary contribution at this stage is simply adhering to the social distancing and isolation rules and thereby doing what we can to help prevent the rapid spread, and we urge everybody else to do likewise #stayhome