ITAC Online - Featuring the Community IT Hero Award Finalists - August 2010
In ITAliCs

… And now, the encore celebration

David Rea, Vice-President for Client Services at Innovapost, presents Dr. Tony Cohn with the 2010 Community IT Hero Award. David Rea, Vice-President for Client Services at Innovapost, presents Dr. Tony Cohn with the 2010 Community IT Hero Award.

Last month we celebrated the Corporate IT Hero Award Finalists – a cutting-edge group of ICT innovators. This month, we turn our attention to the Community IT Hero Award Finalists – an equally impressive collection of ICT professionals working to make our world a better, safer and healthier place.

The Community IT Hero Awards recognize an individual, group or not-for-profit organization that can demonstrate the creative application of information technology in improving the lives of Canadians.

Winner of this year’s Community IT Hero Award is Metabolic Health Monitor (MHM), a monitoring tool that aids clinicians in tracking key metabolic risk markers such as personal history, weight, BMI, blood pressure, and laboratory values. Dr. Tony Cohn of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) developed the system, with the aim of increasing the quality of life among one of Canada’s most vulnerable populations: people suffering from serious mental illness, particularly schizophrenia.

“There has been lots of research being done internationally showing that people with serious mental illness actually die a lot earlier than people in the general population, mostly because of physical health problems,” Dr. Cohn said.

MHM allows clinicians to study these patients and modify their medication regimens in order to help them lead healthier, happier lives. Dr. Cohn said the system will help clinicians treat mental illness patients on a more holistic level, recognizing that mental illnesses pose not only mental threats, but major physical ones as well.

“This population, historically, has not received the best quality medical care, so this shines a flashlight on a high-risk population that has not received the attention it is due.”

While Dr. Cohn and the MHM took home the hardware in this year’s awards program, the three candidates you will read about in the coming pages are also sure to inspire, as they are living proof of the positive impact ICT can have on our world.

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Opening the information floodgates

Gerry Delorme, Director, Manitoba Health, Office of Disaster Management Gerry Delorme, Director, Manitoba Health, Office of Disaster Management

In the spring of 2009, Manitoba’s Health department was in a tense position. Forecasts were calling for the second largest Red River flood since 1826, and it was up to Manitoba Health’s Office of Disaster Management (ODM) to ready the public.

Gerry Delorme is Director of the ODM. He said it was a rather intense situation to be in. Luckily, he had some world-class technology at his fingertips to help manage the disaster.

“Going into the flood of 2009, we were just about ready to go operational when ESRI [Environmental Systems Research Institute] Canada came and asked us if they could help,” he said.

ESRI wanted to team with Manitoba Health to offer them some enhanced Geographic Information System (GIS) services. At first, Gerry was skeptical – he didn’t think they would have enough time to train his department on how to use the new system. But they decided to give it a shot.

Together, Manitoba Health and ESRI created a web-based Common Operational Picture (COP) application, which allowed ODM employees to access numerous data streams – typically available on individual bases only – through one single application.

The system could link to other databases outside their organizations, and could provide everything from weather reports, topographic maps and road closures, to satellite imagery and ambulance dispatch information. Gerry said the system exceeded expectations.

“It changes the way we do business fundamentally. You save lives by making good timely decisions, and anything that facilitates that is extremely important,” he said. “As time went on, things just got better and better. We got access to more and more data streams, and more of our users within Manitoba Health were using it, so it was quite good that way.”

The single most beneficial aspect of the system, though, was its ability to quicken the department’s response times, Gerry said.

“We would have been able to make the same decisions without the system, but the one enemy you have in the business of emergency management is time. It’s the one resource you never have. So to be able to make decisions quickly, based on incredibly accurate information, is crucial,” he said.

“We could have poured over all those different data sets on different screens, and print-outs, and maps, but it would have taken us time. It would have also induced the possibility of error from interpretation of all the different data streams, scales and variables. This new COP application allowed us to make decisions in minutes instead of hours, because we didn’t have to search for the data we needed to make the decisions. We were able to look at the Common Operating Picture – the flood gauges, where our facilities were, the elevation of the rivers, the supply and evacuation routes – in minutes instead of hours. And for people outside the room, we could refer to what was happening on the screen, and they were seeing the same thing, as opposed to having one person using one map and another person using another. So it allows us to communicate very clearly, very effectively, in a very time-sensitive fashion. And what that means for us is a much larger margin of safety in anything we do.”

Gerry said that in the past, interpreting and translating data ate the most time, and now all that work is done automatically.

Looking forward, Gerry said the system will be able to take weather alerts from Environment Canada and trigger notifications to emergency facilities, as well as monitor the status of hospital beds so that accident or disaster victims are sent wherever they can be treated the quickest.

“It’s the first time I’ve had to keep up with the technology,” Gerry said. “The technology is so expansive and so adaptable; we can plug basically anything into it. Information guides everything. When you don’t have information, you have paralysis. And in an emergency, when you have paralysis, that costs lives.”

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Remote control

Shari Mombourquette, Market Manager, SaskTel Shari Mombourquette, Market Manager, SaskTel

Nearly 50 years after Tommy Douglas made instrumental moves toward the creation of a publicly funded provincial healthcare system, Saskatchewan’s provincial government is still pioneering projects that position it as a leader in the provision of innovative healthcare services.

In a province known for its geographical vastness, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health has teamed up with Kelsey Trail Regional Health Authority, HealthLine and SaskTel to form a joint venture arrangement to address the growing need for enhanced chronic disease management in the province. The objective of the joint venture was to undertake a pilot program that uses remote patient monitoring technology to manage patients living with diabetes and hypertension. The 12 month program began in January 2010 and is currently monitoring over 60 patients living with diabetes, hypertension or both. The Ministry chose Kelsey Trail as the location for the program, as this health region is located in north-eastern Saskatchewan with a majority rural population, providing an ideal market for remote patient monitoring.

Sandy Weseen and other members of the Kelsey Trail Regional Health Authority Sandy Weseen and other members of the Kelsey Trail Regional Health Authority

The pilot program utilizes SaskTel’s LifeStat service to provide the technology. LifeStat is a remote patient monitoring service that allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ blood pressure and blood glucose readings without having to visit their homes.

“LifeStat uses standard medical devices that the patient would already be using to take their readings – a blood pressure monitor or blood glucose meter, depending on the patient’s chronic condition,” said Shari Mombourquette, LifeStat Market Manager with SaskTel. “But instead of the patient recording their readings in a paper logbook, the information is automatically transmitted directly from that medical device, using Bluetooth technology, through the internet to a secure web server.

“The beauty of it, then, is that authorized members of the patient’s care team, including the patients themselves, can then access the readings and trend reports almost immediately from any internet enabled computer through a secure authentication process,” Shari said. “And faster access to accurate patient data allows quicker response times for treatment when needed. Another benefit is that the patients, themselves, tend to become more engaged in their own care because they have easy access to their trend reports and know that others are monitoring their readings.”

LifeStat also provides the ability for setting up alerts that can be delivered to members of the care team via text message, e-mail or phone messages. As an example, in the Kelsey Trail project, critical alerts are routed to the provincial HealthLine for immediate follow up with patients. Alerts can also be set up for non-critical situations which could include reminders sent to patients to take their medications.

Sandy Weseen is a Registered Nurse and Director of Homecare for the Kelsey Trail Regional Health Authority. She said the program has three primary goals: (i) improve the quality of services and client outcomes, (ii) increase utilization of the treatments, and (iii) make the process of treating remote clients easier for healthcare staff. She said the idea of removing travel time from the healthcare equation in an area as remote as Kelsey Trail is a complete game changer.

“We really want to assess whether or not our client outcomes will be improved by using this technology, and we’re interested in whether the utilization of this technology will impact the utilization of services and our human resources. Particularly in homecare, because of our travel time, can we in fact provide care to more people remotely if we aren’t encumbered by all the travel time?”

Sandy said there are much larger trends at play, which if unaddressed by Canadian governments will become huge obstacles in the creation of efficient healthcare systems. And this is where LifeStat can help.

“Long term and big picture, we know we’re going to be facing a shortage of nurses and physicians, and in many of our rural communities, we’re already facing these shortages. If there is a way to ensure that we can deliver the care people need, with the available human resources, that would be wonderful. Our concern is, with the available human resources, are we in fact going to be able to provide people with the care that they need to improve their health?”

Both Shari and Sandy are optimistic that at the end of this year-long trial, LifeStat will have proven itself as a service-enhancing system.

Come January, 2011, there are a number of metrics the Ministry of Health will be assessing:

  • Has the average number of home visits, and the length of visits decreased?
  • Has travel time decreased?
  • Has the number of hospital visits decreased?
  • Are Hemoglobin A1c and blood pressure levels in optimal range more often?
  • What responses have they heard from the post-trial “Status Action Surveys,” from both clients and staff?

The need for tools like LifeStat to help manage chronic diseases will continue to grow in response to an aging population, increased incidence rates of chronic disease diagnosis, increasing health care costs, and a shortage of health care professionals.

If the success of Mr. Douglas’s revolutionary idea is foretelling at all, remote tele-monitoring throughout the “true north” could soon become a staple in Canadian healthcare.

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Access to (digital) information

Louise Slobodian, Knowledge Ontario Louise Slobodian, Knowledge Ontario

Today’s “knowledge economy” requires a staggering amount of information as fuel. And an innovative not-for-profit organization in Ontario has created five digital services that serve the province’s large appetite for just that fuel.

Knowledge Ontario (KO) has formed out of a collaboration across a number of sectors – school boards, public libraries, colleges, universities, government libraries, archives, museums and more – to ensure these digital services are available to every Ontarian. That’s a population of 13 million, by the way.

The idea came from the Ontario Library Association about 10 years ago, to create a “digital library” for Ontario. Since then, the idea has evolved into a five-tiered project called Knowledge Ontario.

Louise Slobodian of Knowledge Ontario said the program is about allowing all Ontarians not only to access research help and resources, but also to participate fully in the life of the province.

“Knowledge Ontario supports the key values of equal access or equitability,” she said, “bridging the digital divide so that all communities – whether remote, northern, First Nation, Francophone, rural – can have access to the same resources as those in downtown Toronto.”

All of Knowledge Ontario’s project and services also include a French interface or stream.

“The value of Knowledge Ontario is in its breadth and scale, uniting efforts across sectors, with a vision of a seamless web of services that follow Ontarians through every stage of life,” Louise said. “The very collaboration allows the development of a range of services that grow in time and evolve according to need and changing technology.”

The latest technological advance to come from KO is a geo-IP authentication feature, operating behind a new portal that pulls four of Knowledge Ontario’s services together. [Locate the portal here: eresources.knowledgeontario.ca.] By recognizing Ontario IP addresses, the portal allows automatic access to online information resources, tech support, research help with library staff, and access to four million digitized objects reflecting Ontario’s history and culture.

The five projects geared towards “building a digital citizen,” are:

  • Resource Ontario: a licensing consortium on e-resources, providing well-vetted, well-sorted information databases appropriate to every stage of life and level of learning, including auto repair, health, cooking, careers and job hunting, business, academic journals, and newspapers and periodicals in English and French. These are available through Ontario’s 6,500 publicly funded libraries and at the new “eresources” portal;
  • Ask Ontario: a research help service using instant messaging, offered through libraries, receiving very high traffic and employing more than 600 staff (askON.ca, or in French, ONdemande.ca);
  • Learn Ontario: a technical support “go to” portal (LearnOntario.ca) that offers short high quality learning tutorials on all standard workplace and production software, web 2.0 and social media and K-12 school software, increasing digital literacy;
  • Our Ontario: includes a discovery portal (OurOntario.ca), search technology, digital toolkits and web hosting to make sharing Ontario’s images, maps, videos, texts, collections and more easy and findable – more than 20,000 government documents from the Legislative Library are also available through the govdocs.ourontario.ca portal; and
  • Connect Ontario: updating the online public library catalogue so that it is interactive and friendly – allowing the user to keep track of new books, tag interests, review books and videos, and find a community of fellow Ontarians with common interests.

“All the products and services we offer support digital literacy and e-learning, and let all people participate as engaged citizens in the 21st-centry knowledge economy,” Louise says.

The main focus of the projects, however, will remain the collaboration of people and resources across all information-related sectors to work together and create something special for all Ontarians.

“We have these various pieces, which are fantastic, and more and more we’re integrating them. Knowledge Ontario itself is more than the sum of its parts; it’s becoming a forum for cross-collaboration. As helpful as it is to have people working in their various sectors or silos, we continue to pull people across those boundaries, to create a real vision of what resources and information Ontarians need at their fingertips, how to stay on top of technology, and how to provide all this information in the most trustworthy way, to provide the easiest access, and to foster the highest use.”

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Other News and Events

ITAC’s 2010 Pre-Budget Submission supports Digital Economy recommendations

On Friday, August 13, ITAC submitted its 2010 Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.  The submission outlines strategies for how the Government of Canada can invest adequately in ICT, build world class ICT infrastructure, and grow the ICT industry in Canada.  It concludes with five recommendations on how government can successfully create a National Digital Economy Strategy for Canada, which is necessary to position our nation as an international competitor and leader in the digital age.

Read ITAC’s Pre-Budget Submission.


PWC launches “IFRS Readiness: 2010 Survey of Canadian Technology, Entertainment and Media Companies”

As the transition deadline for IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) approaches, many companies are wondering if they are on track to issue their first set of IFRS financial statements.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2010 Survey of Canadian Technology, Entertainment and Media Companies will uncover where Canadian companies are focusing their efforts and what conversion challenges are unique to these industries.

Complete the survey here.

As a survey respondent, you will receive a complimentary invitation to the survey results webinar, being held on September 30, 2010, where the results and analysis of the survey will be presented. The survey is open for a limited time, so be sure to take this opportunity to have your voice be heard on important issues facing these industries in Canada.


ITAC in Saskatchewan: September 15-16, 2010

It's the home of the Canadian Light Source Syncrotron, Mountie HQ and some fascinating technology companies. So ITAC is heading out to Saskatchewan in September for a series of special events that will showcase Saskatchewan advance technology character. ITAC will join the Regina tech community at the Regina Information and Communication Technology Forum on September 15, and then welcome the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education and Immigration, who will be our special guest at the ITAC Board of Governors Dinner that evening. All Governors and their guests are encouraged to join us. For more information contact Janet Tite at jtite@itac.ca.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 5:30 pm Reception / 7:00 pm Dinner and Speaker
WHERE: Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, 2125 Victoria Avenue, Regina, Tel: (306) 522-7691
COST: No cost

Register for Board of Governors Dinner

REGISTER for all additional events:
Contact Janet Tite at jtite@itac.ca or (613) 238-4822 x.233

Read the “ITAC in Saskatchewan” Program

Thanks again to our generous sponsors:

Alcetel Lucent IBM Nokia


“So many paths…” - ITAC/ CWC Speakers Series on Women in Technology: September 15, 2010

For women, there is no ‘traditional’ career path to leadership in ICT. Find three successful women in technology and you will probably find three different sets of aspirations, three different educational backgrounds, and three different perspectives on the best way to meet the opportunities and challenges that a career in technology can present.

ITAC and Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) will demonstrate this hypothesis at a special networking lunch for women in technology in the Regina area. The luncheon will feature a panel discussion among three members of the ITAC Board of Directors who charted their own unique courses to leadership in the industry. They will tell their own stories and exchange views about the contributions that women can make to ICT enterprises among themselves and with attendees. Lynda Leonard, Senior Vice-President of ITAC, will moderate the conversation which will include Karen Wensley and Lally Rementilla.

This is a special opportunity for women who are following career paths of their own to meet and learn from one another. We hope you can join us.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 – 11:30am to 1:00pm
WHERE: Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, 2125 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK

Register Online


ITAC/CWC Speakers Series – “Letter to My Younger Self: Reflecting on a Career in ICT”: October 6, 2010

If you were your own mentor, what kind of career advice would you give yourself? Recently the IBM Women’s Council posed this question to its members suggesting that they write letters to their younger selves. The exercise was revealing, suggesting that we may ourselves be a rich and overlooked resource for guidance and counsel as we make our career decisions.

By any measure, Christine Alford has made some pretty savvy decisions in her career. Today, as Managing Partner, Global Business Services for IBM Canada, Christine leads thousands of consultants dedicated to bringing together business insight with technological expertise for clients all across Canada. She was a key leader of the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting with IBM in 2002, is currently an Officer of IBM Canada and is recognized as one of the most influential senior executive women in Canada. The younger self to whom Christine addressed her letter was a high school graduate from Sault Ste. Marie with a passion for marine biology. This interactive presentation will chart the career path that led from there to a BSc from Guelph University to a successful career in consulting. Christine will reflect on the challenges, opportunities and surprises she has encountered over the last 28 years. This special event will be a great occasion to learn from one of the most prominent women in Canadian ICT and network with other professionals at various stages of their careers in all aspects of ICT. We hope you can join us!

WHEN: October 6, 2010, 7:30am – 10:00am
WHERE: IBM Canada Headquarters, 3600 Steeles Avenue East, Markham

Register Online


“IN 2010” – the INteractive Exchange: September 12-14, 2010

Registration is now open for “IN 2010” – register now and receive 15 percent off!

IN 2010 – the INteractive Exchange – explores the visionary ideas, creative excellence and technological innovations that generate truly engaging interactive experiences. From games to film, social media to mobile, IN 2010 will bring together International industry leaders for 2.5 days of networking, ideation and business in downtown Toronto.

By registering with the code INDP15, receive 15 percent off Regular Rates. Visit www.inexchange10.com to register.

The conference will be divided into the following streams: Mobile, Social Media, Games, X-Platform and Visionary.

For more information, visit www.inexchange10.com

IN 2010 – the INteractive Exchange – is presented by Interactive Ontario (io).


Recruitment Opportunities in France, Belgium and Tunisia through Ontario’s MEDT and CIC Ontario Region: September 13, 2010

The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Province of Ontario and Citizenship and Immigration Canada Ontario Region invite you to an information session for employers interested in recruitment opportunities in France, Belgium and Tunisia:

WHEN: Monday, September 13th, 2010, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Ontario Investment and Trade Centre, 250 Yonge Street, 35th Floor, Seminar Room, Toronto

Presentations by Pôle emploi international (France), FOREM (Wallonie region, Belgium) and ANETI (Tunisia) will provide information to Ontario employers on how these government services for employment and international mobility can assist in recruiting skilled workers.

The presentations will also provide useful information to employers who wish to participate in the Destination Canada – Job Fairs, November 16-20, 2010 in Paris (France) and Brussels (Belgium), organized by the Embassy of Canada in Paris (www.destination-canada-job-fair.ca) as well as recruitment activities in Tunisia the following week.

RSVP today! Please contact Sharanjeet Kaur at (416) 212-2376 or Sharanjeet.Kaur@ontario.ca to confirm your interest in attending the information session.

For further information regarding overseas travel arrangements, please contact Farida Mersali at 416-973-0196 or Farida.Mersali@cic.gc.ca at Citizenship and Immigration Canada Ontario Region. Employers interested in recruitment in Tunisia should contact Marie Pouliot at the Embassy of Canada in Tunis at marie.pouliot@international.gc.ca.


Centrallia 2010: October 20-22, 2010

Centrallia 2010 is a global business to business (B2B) forum for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that will be hosted in Winnipeg from October 20-22, 2010. This event will bring together more than 600 SMEs from around the world for 2 ½ days of match-making meetings.

Centrallia is organized by ANIM, Manitoba’s bilingual trade agency, in collaboration with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. Centrallia is an excellent opportunity for businesses looking to:

  • Strengthen global market position
  • Develop new export markets or grow an international clientele
  • Explore new trade and investment opportunities
  • Establish future alliances with international market leaders
  • Learn about business and investment opportunities in Manitoba, Canada, as well as the NAFTA region

More than a traditional tradeshow, Centrallia is a platform for international business development that matches business leaders with partners of their choosing, to focus on specific objectives and discuss collaborative projects.

Cost: $700 early bird rate for the first 250 participants ($850 after).

For more info or to register visit www.centrallia.com