Earlier this year as Californians were getting vaccinated by the millions, state leaders were figuring out how to give Californians the option of a digital vaccination record—one that wouldn’t get lost, ripped, or ruined in a washing machine.

Just a few months later, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Technology (CDT) introduced the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal,1 a voluntary system that gives every vaccinated Californian the option of secure, shareable digital proof of vaccination. And two weeks after the launch, California delivered close to one million digital vaccine records to residents who requested them. 

Snowflake is the data backbone of California’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record system. With Snowflake’s unique, near-instant elasticity and multi-cluster shared data architecture, the portal can deliver secure digital vaccine records to Californians within seconds of a request, and it’s capable of delivering millions of records per day. 

A Weapon in the COVID-19 Battle

Data has proven to be one of the most powerful weapons against COVID-19, and the Snowflake Data Cloud has been helping the state of California with its battle against the virus on many fronts. 

Earlier during the pandemic, Snowflake helped the state develop a secure, authoritative COVID-19 data repository that housed information on COVID-19 cases; deaths; hospitalizations; available and in-use hospital beds, personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators; and the demographics of patients. 

Today, California is using Snowflake’s Data Cloud to store and analyze a number of data sets to help leaders better respond to outbreaks and plan for the future. Through Snowflake Data Marketplace, the information is easily and securely shareable among state agencies and departments; county health departments and agencies; and health partners such as hospitals, vaccine providers, and others. 

The data in Snowflake is also used for a state COVID-19 website that the public can access for updates, and for CA Notify, a phone app developed by Google and Apple that allows people to be notified if they’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Snowflake’s New Performance Enhancements for Interactive Use Cases

When vaccines became available, the state of California once again turned to Snowflake to activate data in the COVID-19 fight. There were two goals: to create an incentive for residents to get vaccinated and to create an optional digital vaccine record.

The Vax for the Win2 incentive program was built on top of vaccination data in Snowflake from the CDPH. The program gave monetary incentives to residents who got their first vaccination between May 27 and July 18. An interactive data application draws from CDPH’s vaccine data set in Snowflake’s Data Cloud to check on eligibility.

The Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal uses Snowflake to develop a scalable pipeline to deduplicate records in one location in the Data Cloud and to build a data application layer using Azure. Enhancements to Snowflake’s elastic performance engine deliver high throughput and consistent low latency, ensuring that millions of residents can request and resolve their records at the same time and quickly. The Data Cloud can scale up and down to accommodate nearly any number of requests. 

In just the first day after the launch of the portal, millions of California residents requested and received their digital records. Leveraging Snowflake’s unstructured data features3 to securely verify citizen information, the CDT was also able to build a virtual assistant to remediate data issues if residents find errors in their information. 

All of this is delivered seamlessly from the Data Cloud without the need for performance tuning or configuration of infrastructure. Snowflake enables the isolation and independent scaling of data engineering workloads from data app workloads. The ease of standing up new projects in Snowflake improves the CDT’s ability to complete requests faster than ever.

“It’s gratifying to see our latest product enhancements powering the state of California’s critical, data-driven digital vaccination record portal in the fight against COVID-19,” said Artin Avanes, Head of Core Products, Product Management at Snowflake. “This interactive application is a great example of the power of the Snowflake Data Cloud. By creating a comprehensive data repository in Snowflake, the state accelerated data collaboration across diverse organizations and enabled many individuals to concurrently receive accurate, up-to-date information. We’re looking forward to seeing more interactive dashboards, embedded analytics, and data applications using these new product enhancements.”

  1.  bit.ly/3l5EKZ8
  2. bit.ly/3yNrZat
  3. Support for unstructured data is in preview as of the publication of this post.