Author Archives: Alex Coop

Technicity GTA an opportunity to educate and inspire

Canadian municipalities were facing extraordinary demands from the public prior to the pandemic. City services were already becoming increasingly digitized, a trend that’s only intensified, especially at the federal level, as the remote work era continues.  On April 6, 2020, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) portal opened, allowing Canadians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…

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Coffee Briefing, October 27, 2020 – New beginnings, plus the latest from Dell, IBM, NetApp, and more

Starting today, we are combining our CDN and ITWC Morning Briefings to deliver our entire audience the most complete news package with the latest headlines, interviews, and social media chatter.

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Ontario open data portal tracking COVID sees traffic spike in October as second wave looms

A website built by volunteers monitoring Ontario’s response to COVID-19 has been the go-to source for thousands of healthcare professionals keeping a vigilant eye on the pandemic’s spread for the past six months, and according to one of its creators, it’s seen a significant spike in traffic this month as a second wave pushes through the province.

During the week of Oct. 6, more than 1,000 users were accessing the website, says Dr. Ben Fine, a physician-scientist with Trillium Health Partners, lining up with the disturbingly steady rise in daily cases since the start of October. More than 150 people have volunteered since April to work on howsmyflattening.ca, a site that visualizes the too-many sources of data feeding us information about the pandemic in Ontario and beyond. These volunteers come from the Trillium Health Partners, University of Toronto, and beyond. The problem hasn’t been a lack of information for healthcare professionals to monitor and learn from over the past six months, says Dr. Fine – it was the opposite. 

“We saw places like Italy, with a more robust healthcare system, become overwhelmed,” he told IT World Canada. “In Canada, the province is putting out its own data, and so is everyone else. But these are all disparate data sources, so what we’re doing is compiling all of that disparate data and putting all of it in one place with Red Hat’s help.”

Bringing in a technology partner was necessary with a project as complicated as this, Dr. Fine stated. There’s too much to sort through and not enough time for people to do it manually, especially as the pandemic enters a second wave. Howsmyflattening.ca relies on more than a dozen data sets.

The software giant and its cherished OpenShift platform came in early thanks to a tip from IBM, explains Claude Reeves, country manager for Canada at Red Hat. He and his team jumped in to help Dr. Fine and UoT’s Dr. Laura Rosella, director of the Population Health Analytics Lab, lay the foundation for the open data portal. The project would continue to flourish thanks to members of the university’s computer science department and a host of other volunteers teaming up on the howsmyflattening.ca’s GitLab repository.

The website itself is described as a ‘virtual war room’ gathering information about COVID-19 for Ontario decision-makers, healthcare professionals, researchers, and residents. It hit the “sweet spot” for Red Hat, says Reeves, who quickly fell in love with the project itself and Dr. Fine’s desire to build howsmyflattening.ca through a community-driven approach.

“We got some folks at Red Hat who know how to build a community,” he added.

Within days, Red Hat made OpenShift available to project volunteers, and within two to three weeks, everyone was peeling through data and posting it to the website. A month later, Reeves says members began performing deeper analytics on the collected data and building visuals for the website to help present them. More recently, the data has helped visualize how the risk of transmission of COVID from younger age groups into older age groups is high.

Getting involved was a “no-brainer,” concluded Reeves.

Dr. Fine says once he and his team had the right tools, it became an “all-consuming” task to maintain the website’s back-end and automate the process of scraping the web for the latest data. Even with the project ultimately inspiring the province to stop deleting the previous day’s information on the number of new cases from its website – a practice the province was performing back in March and April – there’s been little movement to try and combine forces and help inform the province’s response to the pandemic.

“We’d be happy to engage,” he said.

The project is also intended to convey the importance of flattening the epidemiological curve. Ontario is currently experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections. On Oct. 26, the province reported 851 new cases. It experienced a disturbingly rapid increase of daily infections during October, exceeding even the highest number of daily infections recorded back in March. This coincided with a massive spike in traffic on the website early in October, says Dr. Fine.

“A lot of amazing people came together, students and professionals, all of whom had better things to do, and dedicated their time and effort to make this happen,” he said.

The post Ontario open data portal tracking COVID sees traffic spike in October as second wave looms first appeared on IT World Canada.

Hashtag Trending – Right to repair movement swells; #CoronaVirusHiring; Cleaning up your digital history

The right to repair movement gains momentum in the U.S. and beyond, LinkedIn has a long-list of companies that are hiring right now and they include several tech companies, and a story about maintaining your digital history catches fire.

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Hashtag Trending – Quibi is finished; Former Google CEO dunks on social networks; Trump’s Twitter password

Entertainment startup Quibi shuts down after blowing through $1.75 billion of funding, Google’s former CEO dunks on social networks, and a security researcher says they guessed President Trump’s Twitter password.

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New CIOCAN president wants to ‘strengthen’ the CIO’s voice

Chief information officers across Canada have been driving change in their organizations, and in some cases, have helped accelerate digital transformation projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the role of the CIO is constantly changing and sometimes stays shrouded in mystery due to the many ways it touches business operations. Philippe Johnston is hoping to…

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Google Cloud awarded Framework Agreement for Secure Cloud Services by Canadian government

While all eyes are on the U.S. Justice Department this week as it launched an antitrust lawsuit against Google, Google Cloud quietly announced its latest step in strengthening its relationship with Canada.

Today, the federal government awarded Google Cloud with a Framework Agreement for Secure Cloud, giving Google the green light to sell its cloud platform and collaboration technologies to federal agencies.

“We want to work with, and better support a wide range of federal departments, agencies, and crown corporations,” Mike Daniels, vice-president of global public sector for Google Cloud told IT World Canada, pointing out how a framework agreement like this allows them to support programs that require high levels of data protection for government workloads. “This new agreement reflects our continued investment and support for customers in the Canadian public sector, including the announcement of our second data center region in Toronto. It is another example of momentum we’re seeing as government agencies move to the cloud.” 

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Despite some recent pitfalls – like the collapse of the Sidewalk Labs smart city project – Google has strong relationships with public sector agencies across the country. More recently, it announced its intentions to open up new offices in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo in the coming years. That’s on top of the new Google Cloud Region in Montreal with three availability zones. A spokesperson for Google confirmed the tech giant is also planning another cloud region with three availability zones for Toronto. 

The Canadian public sector is viewed by most technology vendors as a cautious client when it comes to cloud adoption. Still, Daniels says there’s no doubt that Canada’s public agencies are becoming cloud friendly. That’s also evident in Canada’s public sector’s investments in competing cloud providers, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Daniels says Google Anthos, which allows IT admins to manage modern hybrid applications on existing on-premises investments or in the public cloud, has gotten the attention of clients hesitant to take the full leap into the cloud. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed priorities for businesses and governments globally, and Google is heavily involved in many of those boardroom discussions. The Canadian market is no different, he says.

“It’s [COVID-19] changed a number of things, allowing the government to rethink itself. We’re looking forward to being part of those discussions as a partner,” Daniels said.

Daniels wasn’t able to list all of the different government customers Google works with, but he did confirm that the Upper Grand District School Board in Guelph is one of its bigger public sector clients in Ontario. Canadian customers in the private sector include Loblaws, Scotiabank, ATB Financial and Celestica. CBC has also been a long-time user of collaboration services like Workspace (now known as G Suite). A spokesperson for Google also said that CBC was an early adopter of Google’s Kubernetes products such as Google Kubernetes Engine.

When it comes to the antitrust lawsuit south of the border – which Google scoffed at in a recent blog post penned by Kent Walker, senior vice-president of Global Affairs – Daniels could not comment on what impact, if any, those discussions could have on the framework agreement. Meanwhile, in Canada, Google faced a class-action lawsuit earlier last month, filed on behalf of the millions of Canadians whose personal information was allegedly collected without consent by the company. That was followed by a new class-action lawsuit claiming privacy violations of Android users in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

 

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ITWC Morning Briefing, October 22, 2020 – Dell Technologies World news, plus new news and old news

To keep up with the firehose of news, we’ve decided to deliver some extra news to you on the side every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Some of it is an extension of our own reporting that didn’t make its way into a story, while others might be content we’ve bookmarked for later reading and thought…

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ITWC Morning Briefing, October 20, 2020 – SK hynix acquires Intel NAND memory and storage business, Technicity is back, and more

To keep up with the firehose of news, we’ve decided to deliver some extra news to you on the side every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Some of it is an extension of our own reporting that didn’t make its way into a story, while others might be content we’ve bookmarked for later reading and thought…

The post ITWC Morning Briefing, October 20, 2020 - SK hynix acquires Intel NAND memory and storage business, Technicity is back, and more first appeared on IT World Canada.

Hashtag Trending – A $2B tax evasion scheme; Zoom launches OnZoom; Oracle CEO supports Lindsey Graham

A billionaire is indicted on charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, Zoom launches a new service, and a report shows Oracle's CEO donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham shortly after the TikTok deal.

The post Hashtag Trending - A B tax evasion scheme; Zoom launches OnZoom; Oracle CEO supports Lindsey Graham first appeared on IT World Canada.

University of Calgary launches master of data science and analytics degree

The University of Calgary is adding a new graduate program to help people with different disciplines become data scientists.

The Master in Data Science and Analytics (MDSA), which was unveiled this week, is a graduate degree program offered through a collaboration between the Faculty of Science, the Haskayne School of Business, the Cumming School of Medicine, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

According to the university, the new program is aimed at building capacity in Canada’s growing digital economy. Statistics Canada says the country’s digital economy – which itself isn’t an industry but for a sense of scale we’ll ignore that for a moment – was larger as a proportion of the total economy than mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (4.8 per cent), transportation and warehousing (4.6 per cent) and utilities (2.4 per cent) in 2015. On an annual basis, the digital economy increased more than the total economy every year except in 2011 and 2017 when Canada experienced strong growth in the energy sector.

“Realizing the changing needs in an increasingly data-driven economy in Alberta, Canada, and around the world, the new program will fill an important niche in meeting the needs of students with an interest in re-skilling and up-skilling towards the tech sector,” said Dr. Bernhard Mayer, PhD, interim Faculty of Science dean. “Students in the master of data science and analytics program can expect a leading-edge education that will help them transition to important roles in Canada’s tech economy.”

The University’s website says fundamental data science, business analytics, and health data analytics and biostatistics are the program’s three areas of focus. The degree can be completed full-time in 16 months (or 12 months if students choose an accelerated pathway) or part-time through a stackable certificate and diploma pathway.

Applications to the Master of Data Science and Analytics are currently being accepted for classes beginning in September 2021.

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Hashtag Trending – GPS track sea turtle traffickers; Netflix Canada hikes prices; IBM spinoff

GPS tracks sea turtle traffickers; Netflix Canada is hiking its prices, and IBM says goodbye to its managed infrastructure services. It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Friday, October 9, and I’m your host Alex Coop.   ===== Fake eggs fitted with GPS track sea turtle traffickers in…

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IBM spin-off to handle managed infrastructure services starting end of 2021

IBM is saying goodbye to its legacy business by spinning off its managed infrastructure services into a new company and embracing a "$1 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity," according to chief executive officer Arvind Krishna.

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