PDFs: Unlocking the Value Within

June 30, 2021

PDFs are on the rise.  So much so, that over 300 billion PDFs were opened in Adobe products in 2020. Yet PDFs, despite their clean look and uniform structure, are not ideal for extracting data and insights at any measure of scale. In essence, PDFs may be great at making sets of data look presentable, but when attempting to analyze trends over time, they notoriously don’t jive with off-the-shelf analytics tools.

Fact is, people need data that is easy to consume.  They need data that is easily integrated into their existing systems and infrastructure.  And they need data that is easily visualized for quick decision making. Cue our new data management toolkit, Standard Data, which includes functionality to extract and convert embedded data into clean, yet powerful dashboards so decision-makers can visualize progress and make better decisions.

PDF-to-Dashboard in Real Life

The Standard Co data management team, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, recognized an opportunity to leverage Standard Data tools to contextualize local COVID-19 vaccination distribution data reported by the Georgia Department of Public health. The dataset — a massive, multi-page PDF document was of little value to everyday constituents as-is.

Using the Standard Data toolkit, our team built and delivered a custom, easy-to-comprehend dashboard to the Georgia Department of Public Health — 100% pro-bono, ‘cause we’re nice people.  Then we built a public website to house the dashboard (complete with an automatic update each time the GDPH releases a revised PDF report).  The dashboard contextualizes hundreds of pages of data into county-specific maps, allowing Georgians to easily see what vaccine type and respective quantities have been ordered and/or approved in their area.

In addition to the dashboard, we implemented Standard Data tools to further augment the GDPH’s PDF report, delivering this rich dataset in a couple of other useful formats:

What was once a static PDF full of “locked” vaccine data is now a fully pivotable, dynamic visual web-based report with infinite possibilities for better, quicker decision making. Side note:  this wasn’t our first punch thrown at the pandemic - check out the COVID Mapping Project here.

Life Lessons from Standard Co

TJ Muehleman, Standard Co cofounder and avid Arrested Development fan, compares extracting enormous value from previously untapped sources to George Bluth’s iconic line “there’s always money in the banana stand”. *

“There's an immense amount of quality data just sitting inside of PDFs, locked away and hard to find.  We’re willing to bet those PDF documents right in front of you can offer powerful insights and we want to make that possible” - TJ

*Spoiler Alert: the banana stand burns down in the show, but let's just ignore that part...

Want to learn more? Get in touch here. A real human is standing by to help unlock your data.