Special Report Albertas Ict Powerhouse


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Special Report Albertas Ict Powerhouse

  1. 1. A Troy Media PublicationSPECIAL REPORTAlberta’s ICT Powerhouse Information Communications Technology Simulation and game development Web publishing management systems ICT transforming the energy business E-health innovation
  2. 2. Table of ContentsAlberta’s ICT PowerhousePublisherGary SlywchukSenior EditorDoug FirbyArt DirectorSally HewsonSponsored byAlberta ICT CouncilAbout Troy Media Corporation Photo: Chuck SzmurloTroy Media is dedicated to fosteringdebate about issues shaping Canadaand the world. In less than five years,we have become a major andrespected supplier of high-qualityopinion, analyses and timely editorialcontent.Over the past 12 months, more than800 media outlets have consistentlyused our content. Our circulation for 4 Innovation key to meeting ICT challenges2010 exceeded 530 million.Our website has also demonstrated 6 Alberta’s tech sector has no beef with the oil industrydramatic growth. Visits to the end ofSeptember 2010 exceeded 550,000. 8 54,000 Albertans employed in technologyWith our new design – featuringan enhanced format, a raft of new 10 ICT in the economic driver’s seatcontent including syndicatedcolumns and features that will 12 BlackLine GPS gives parents peace of mindbe marketed globally, and easy,instantaneous navigation – page 14 Integrating ICT into health care saves money… and livesviews are averaging 10 pages pervisit, with visitors remaining on 16 Alberta companies create bleeding-edge mobile appsthe site an average of 8.6 minutes.Troy Media distributes more than 18 Cleankeys’ Randy Marsden takes a Swype at texting45 commentaries, articles andcolumns each month, along with 20 What we have here is a failure to communicatespecial sections and exclusivereports on a wide variety of issues 21 Wireless synching innovation frees users from shackles and topics, written by authoritative of USBand well-known writers andjournalists. 22 Clean technology harmonizes man and machines with For more information about Troy the environmentMedia, visit www.troymedia.com oremail us at info@troymedia.com 24 Three-time curling champ now has his head in the clouds 26 Canada third largest video game producer 28 Third-generation websites go far beyond earning money 30 We should stop trying to compete against ChinaTroy Media Corporation(403) 835-8192(403) 398-0509 fax Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 3
  3. 3. Innovation key to meeting ICT challenges By Patrick Binns edmonton, ab, troy media/ – Two companies transaction, or groups of transactions, ExEcutivE DirEctor invest similar amounts of time and money to become readily available. Changing inefficient AlbErtA ict council build their Information and Communications processes requires insight into both available Technology (ICT) infrastructure and yet they computing devices and business knowledge. may have completely different outcomes. Why Sadly, this is where the innovation process the difference? often fails. The key difference between the two FoCuS on buSIneSS proCeSSeS outcomes comes down to whether businesses look beyond the basic infrastructure – the To get beyond mere “computer plumbing,” “ICT plumbing” – and take a different attitude companies have to focus more on business towards their ICT investment. processes than available technology. ICT Plumbing refers to the workstations, This is where Alberta’s ICT sector shines: networks, servers, data centres and portable we have companies involved in business value computing devices – in other words, stuff. chains that build industry solutions based on While these devices are critical to the integrated components, data resources and processes that support our economy, they are advanced software. These systems address less important than the innovation thinking productivity opportunities in economic required to utilize these devices to their sectors, such as resource management, maximum potential. advanced manufacturing, eHealth and industrial systems. ICT IS A Core CoMpeTenCy System components are readily available; Do you consider your ICT infrastructure the innovation challenge comes in integrating as “a cost to your business” or as “an enabler them to solve complex real-world solutions to your business?” If you view it as an enabler, that drive productivity – for example next- then ICT is a core competency and is being generation processes to manage our wellness, used to set you apart from your competitors. health, and chronic diseases. • If it’s just a cost, then ICT purchases are being treated much like buying pens, paper, and Patrick Binns is the Executive Director of the other office supplies. Alberta ICT Council. The council works with ICT-enabled innovation is responsible for companies and stakeholders in Alberta to promote, process improvements because it eliminates develop, and distribute ICT-based products. information barriers. Data to support the Contact: Patrick.Binns@AlbertaICT.ca 3D Interactive (3DI) is a leading developer of interactive simulation software for industrial training and design visualization.4 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
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  5. 5. Alberta’s tech sector has no beef with the oil industry calgary, ab, troy media/ –They don’t wear cowboy hats, spray crops or work on oilrigs. Yet they contribute up to 15 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product. They’re techies, and they’re the unsung heroes of Alberta’s economy. The statistics are impressive: Alberta’s information communications technology (ICT) sector’s direct economic impact exceeds $8 billion per year, and ICT companies are among the largest spenders on industrial research and development, according to the Alberta ICT Council, a not-for-profit advocacy group. Health care, education and government services are among the countless industries benefiting from Alberta’s burgeoning tech sector. Driving that growth are a handful of factors, including low provincial taxes, government initiatives and an impressive talent pool. While the presence of tech titans like Nortel once lured IT professionals to this prairie province, Ranil Herath, president of DeVry University’s Calgary campus, points to smaller outfits as being key contributors to Alberta’s economy. “These days, there are many small- to medium-size tech firms that continue to thrive in the province of Alberta, and we’re seeing a Delivering CT and MRI scans fair bit of innovation come out of them.” and other critical data, MeDICAl IMAGInG ResolutionMD Mobile by Calgary Scientific allows One of those firms is Calgary Scientific, which has developed an iPhone and iPad app that emergency personnel to provides round-the-clock, worldwide access to medical images on mobile devices. Dubbed make life-saving decisions ResolutionMD Mobile, the life-saving software lets emergency personnel deliver to doctors CT on the spot. and MRI scans and a range of other critical data that allow them to make decisions on the spot. Not bad for a business with just 53 employees.6 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  6. 6. But profit parlayed into government subsidies isn’t the only way tech-related companies are piggybacking on Alberta’s energy, agriculture and oil sectors. “People don’t realize it, but the oil patch is a very technical business,” Osing says. “Calgary is one of the centres of the universe for technology development as related to the resource industry.” That’s not to suggest that Alberta’s tech sector doesn’t face major challenges. Although the province still enjoys a relatively low tax regime, the oil boom has driven up the price of residential and commercial real estate. According to a recent Royal LePage housing- price survey, the average price of a two-storey home has risen by 5.5 per cent, and prices for detached bungalows have increased by 4.6 per cent since 2009. InSuFFICIenT venTure CApITAl Another obstacle to the tech sector’s positive impact on Alberta’s economy is poor access to venture capital. While some provinces, Ontario for example, have labour and pension-sponsored funds, Osing says that “the single biggest factor that we lack in Alberta is a significant amount of venture capital or institution capital to invest in early-stage technologies here.” Nemish agreed. “Compared to Eastern or “People’s perception is that you can’t build CollAborATIve SpIrIT Western Canada, there isn’t really a strongthe kind of advanced technology that we’re venture-capital community for high-tech A collaborative spirit has also greatlybuilding in Alberta,” says Byron Osing, CEO companies. Ninety per cent of business in contributed to Alberta’s strengtheningof Calgary Scientific. “But my team stands in Alberta is focused on oil and gas, so venture tech sector. “Alberta is still the mostfront of the biggest, smartest companies in the capitalists see that as a much lower-risk entrepreneurial province in the country,”world all the time and blows them away.” investment than high tech. Besides, it’s much Osing says. “We’re a Western-based province; Long gone are the days of Alberta’s gold- easier to invest in businesses you understand we’re not fed by government; you pull yourselfrush-driven work force, which spawned mass than ones you don’t.” up by your own bootstraps, and you find ainfluxes – and exoduses – of talent. “Once Business leaders have criticized the Alberta way to make a go of it. To do that, you havepeople move here, they find the lifestyle in government for picking favourites when to depend on each other as entrepreneursAlberta is wonderful,” Osing says. “It’s a great allocating scarce funds. “The government or private businessmen for access to a lot ofprovince to live in, and the personal taxes has to be careful not to be perceived as resources that people in other provinces canare a lot lower than many people are used to picking winners and losers (among high tech access through government programs.”paying in Ontario or British Columbia. Once companies),” Nemish says. “It’s a very fine There’s no disputing that Alberta’s techtechnology-based talent comes here, it seldom line.” sector has been overshadowed by theleaves.” In the end though, sustaining Alberta’s province’s much-ballyhooed beef and energy Roman Nemish has seen similar ICT sector and its positive impact on the industries. However, savvy business leadersemployment trends. Nemish is the president province’s economy may have as much to do are tapping into the advantages of being soof Tektelic Communications, a Calgary-based with innovation, talent and venture capital as close to such lucrative industries.company specializing in high-power and with gracefully embracing its second-string “When the oil and gas companies werehigh-efficiency radio solutions for wireless status. After all, says Herath, “the two main doing really well, the government was ablenetworks. “It’s not difficult to attract people in areas Alberta is known for are beef and oil. to see a meaningful profit, which it’s nowthe telecom industry to Alberta,” he says. using to make Alberta a stronger location for And that’s not going to change.” • investment,” Nemish says. Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 7
  7. 7. 54,000 calgary, ab, troy media/ –This summer, as the renowned Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit opened in the brand-new Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York, an online video game set out to recruit secret agents aged eight to 12 to follow Albertans explorer Howard Carter’s trail all the way to the exhibit. Seek Your Own Proof, an educational game that encourages children to research historical events online and in nearby museums to solve puzzles and earn points, is one of the employed cornerstones of the Discovery Channel’s Discovery Kids website. It’s also one of the interesting success stories of Alberta’s information and communication technologies sector. It was developed by Edmonton’s Rocketfuel Productions, a joint venture between two Alberta ICT in companies, Hotrocket and Redengine. “Ten years ago, when I started Redengine, we focused on making software and providing services and platforms for professional associations in Canada and U.S.,” says Tom Ogaranko, technology the co-founder of Redengine, who also serves as chair of the Alberta ICT Council. “We wanted to branch out, and we got together with Hotrocket and launched Rocketfuel to do the online game, which is now being played by more than 10,000 kids, and which Discovery is building into its broadcasting.” 54,000 AlberTAnS work In TeCHnoloGy Ogaranko is one of 54,000 Albertans employed by about 4,300 companies that generate $10 billion in revenues across the province. He is also a perpetual entrepreneur, having moved on from Redengine and Rocketfuel in 2008 to found Kanata Health Solutions, a University of Alberta spinoff company that is taking a wireless wearable patient-monitor patent developed by the university and bringing the technology to market. Clusters of research and development infrastructure centre around the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. Dr. Cooper Langford8 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  8. 8. Ogaranko’s story is emblematic of Alberta’s There are also small but significant the broader topic of innovation. He offers aICT sector, which is made up largely of small pockets of innovation in Medicine Hat, good explanation of what those offshoots mayand medium enterprises that dot an economic where the federally funded Canadian Centre look like.landscape still dominated by resource extraction for Unmanned Vehicle Systems facilitates “Calgary is a knowledge-base centre,” heand servicing the oil patch. research in unmanned vehicles near the says. “There is not much oil around here As a large, sparsely populated province Canadian Forces Base in Suffield and in anymore, and not much gas, but Calgary is thewith abundant natural resources, it is no Lethbridge, where the Canadian Centre for place where you can put together the technicalsurprise that Alberta’s ICT sector is mainly Behavioural Neuroscience at the University and managerial capacity for extractivefocused on geomatics, land management of Lethbridge attracts world-class researchers projects around Alberta, Canada and abroad.”and environmental science, which allow like Dr. Bruce McNaughton who in 2008 won So you have ICT, managerial and financialfor more efficient use of land and resources, the $10-million Alberta Heritage Foundation services, and there is innovation in each area. “What is interesting is that wireless services and its Global Positioning Systems (GPS) cousin have spun off from services in oil and gas into its own cluster,” Langford adds. Langford’s research points to trends in Calgary and across the province, where the presence of large market niches like the oil and gas sector and the Alberta government - as well as university research centres - provide fertile ground for innovation. “Certainly GPS is strong in Calgary, but that is partly because the GPS group here at the University of Calgary developed an explicit strategy in developing a GPS industry,” says Langford. “They did it by taking an activist stance within an academic organization, the U.S. Institute of Navigation. They encouraged their students to publish papers, which talk about Calgary-manufactured prototypes. Their students were getting more best-paper awards at these international meetings than anyone, and the industry benefits.”and wireless- and mobile-communication for Medical Research Polaris Award, the enCourAGInG A CulTure oFtechnologies, which foster communication largest medical award in Canada. exCellenCeacross vast distances. Those two areas of Dr. McNaughton joined the CCBN from theexpertise are complemented by strong University of Arizona to lead a 10-year project Several e-services companies in Edmontone-services (especially e-health) and digital investigating electrical impulses and memory are focused on e-health, and there is alsomedia sectors. consolidation, and he is in good company. a growing gaming cluster, led by software Just this summer, another CCBN researcher, developers Bioware, that has produced someCAlGAry, eDMonTon HoST TeCH of the most recognizable video game titles on Dr. Robert Sutherland, announced a majorCluSTerS the market, including Star Wars: Knights of breakthrough in brain research, showing that The ICT companies that either serve damaged adult brain cells can be regrown in the Old Republic.or are spun out of the energy sector are mice, raising hopes that similar methods may “From a consumer point of view, anyoneclustered around Calgary, along with the be used to help treat diseases like Alzheimer’s who loves computer games knows that one ofwireless sector, which goes back to the days and Parkinson’s. the most productive companies in the worldwhen Nortel was a global powerhouse in In the meantime, Alberta’s more traditional is Bioware,” says Randy Goebel, professornetwork technologies. Many of Alberta’s advantages in oil and gas continue to benefit of computing science at the University ofe-services, e-health and digital-media companies in the ICT sector. Alberta and the former CEO of the Albertacompanies are clustered around Edmonton. Informatics Circle of Research Excellence, oIl AnD GAS oFFSHooTS which was established in October 1999 by theBoth cities provide a favourable climatefor innovation, with large, well-educated Dr. Cooper Langford, professor of government of Alberta.populations and clusters of research chemistry at the University of Calgary and “But, do consumers notice that it’s anand development infrastructure at the director of its Science, Technology and Alberta company?” asks Goebel. “TheUniversity of Calgary and University of Society Program, has studied the origins and geography of where a product comes from is aAlberta. structure of the Calgary wireless sector and nonissue for the customer. It just has to be good.” • Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 9
  9. 9. ICT in the economic driver’s seat calgary, ab, troy media/ – Breaking new ground, forging creative links, and educating by opening people’s minds to the beneficial wonders of cutting-edge technology is all in a day’s work for Alberta’s ICT leaders. Leslie Roberts, president of GoForth Institute, is a good example of one of those leaders. Roberts is a leader in entrepreneurship, education and research and now ICT. She was the first person in Canada to be awarded a PhD in entrepreneurship. GoForth is a private nationwide institute dedicated to entrepreneurial education — the only one of its kind in Canada. nATIonAl enTrepreneurSHIp eDuCATIon “We’re doing something quite nontraditional in the education sector,” Roberts says. “We are delivering the first national entrepreneurship education program for adults using a technology program.” Market research uncovered a demand for adult education delivered in a way that would suit working entrepreneurs. “I was not intending to become a technology company, but I let the market drive us there. “This is where I connected with the technology sector and with Calgary Technologies Inc. (CTI) helped us identify and select a program that would respond to the needs of the marketplace and protect our valuable content, streaming high-def video.” Roberts says GoForth took the curriculum and “packetized” it, which condenses each of the 30 segments to a maximum of 20 minutes. The video lessons cost $295 per student for the full 10-hour course, and users can sign on and watch whenever it’s convenient. “I had a background as a professor, and I really wanted to build something,” Roberts says. “The technology arrived at the right time, allowing us to deliver entrepreneurship education anywhere in the country. Having a tech partner makes it easy for us to stay at the forefront of Web videos.” Another pioneer to watch, says Roberts, is Calgary-based Worldplay, a leader in video- compression technology, with whom she will be launching a new product that will lower the barriers to transmitting educational information worldwide. web 2.0 SeCurITy Roberts believes ICT drives every aspect of the economy, and that includes protecting the security of all high-tech applications. Enter Wedge Networks Inc., a leader in Web 2.0 security for enterprises and service providers worldwide. Wedge Networks’ CEO Hongwen Zhang estimates there are about four million viruses transmitted via the Internet, and he warns that they are becoming more aggressive with the proliferation of Internet usage. “Because of our clear vision for a clean network, Wedge is taking a leadership role,” he says. Zhang has more than 18 years of high-tech experience and notes that Wedge offers a security solution “that is revolutionary in the sense that it offers great cost savings and simplifies day-to- day management.” Endorsements for Wedge Networks’ products come from such industry principals as Wmode, a global leader in content management for mobile networks, and media companies. Leslie Roberts, president of GoForth Institute10 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  10. 10. Describing the Internet today as “thenervous system of the human race,” Zhangalso sees significance in promoting andsponsoring partnerships. “We try to fosteran ecosystem where we can bring value tosociety,” he says.noT-For-proFIT ICT SHIFTInGFoCuS One of the beneficiaries of that sponsorshipis TRLabs, Canada’s largest informationand communications technology R&Dconsortium. Under the stewardship of CEO RobertTasker, TRLabs is bringing technologiesto market that used to be limited in useto applied research. After 23 years in theICT private sector, Tasker recognizes thechallenges ahead, as did the board of TRLabs,which realized a new mindset was required to“lead the way to commercializing technology.” When Tasker first joined the innovationsector he admits to making a simplisticjudgment: “It’s a very fragmented ecosystem,”with a number of players like TRLabs, butlittle collaboration. “I see a huge opportunityfor TRLabs to take a leadership role inpartnerships, rather than competing for not-for-profit dollars from government.” Alberta Innovates is a prime exampleof successfully consolidating high-techorganizations, Tasker says. He believes Robert Tasker, CEO, TRLabs that Alberta Innovates CEO Gary believer in Europe’s approach to education, Albach “understands and recognizes the where he grew up with “engineering as applied fragmentation problem and hopes to create science.” one technology-industry association with a In the U.K., he says, most professors more consistent voice.” practice their specialties. “In Canada, super Hongwen Zhang, Another problem Tasker is addressing is smart people get educated but never practice. I CEO, the lack of venture capital available for small want to make what we’re doing more practical Wedge Networks businesses. “Canada is attractive to investors, so industry sees the benefits. What’s changing so we must help coach SMBs to find what the ICT sector is the legacy of what telecom venture capitalists want and what they must and other providers can do for business and do to attract them.” The Alberta ICT Council consumers.” is heavily involved in this initiative globally, But Gedeon says the ICT community must Tasker says. pull together more. For its part, his company sponsors the Telus Innovation Award, “of TIMe To puT TeACHInG InTo which 30 per cent goes to communicating prACTICe innovative ideas.” Ibrahim Gedeon, Prior to joining TRLabs, Tasker spent Looking ahead, Gedeon is intent on turning Chief Technology 10 years as an executive with Telus, where engineering into applied science. He sees it as Officer, Telus Ibrahim Gedeon is chief technology officer. a moral responsibility because it can do the Internationally educated, Gedeon is a great most good on a global scale. • Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 11
  11. 11. blackline GpS gives parents peace of mind calgary, ab, troy media/ – Parents are understandably nervous when their teenagers are learning to drive. It’s hard not to think of all the things that can go wrong when your 16 year old is disappearing down the street behind the wheel of the family sedan. But now an Alberta-developed technology can bring those parents peace of mind. Alberta’s BlackLine GPS has received wide acclaim for its “teen safety GPS system,” delivered by its Entourage CIS product. It allows parents of teen drivers to monitor and “improve the driving behaviour of their teens” using special report cards, explains Clark Swanson, BlackLine’s president and CEO. These report cards are “based on parameters set by the parents,” who set times they expect their teens to be attending school and driving speeds they consider acceptable, he says. It’s just one of hundreds of services and products developed in Alberta that are improving the lives of consumers every day. And the Alberta ICT Council is working hard to make it easier for the companies behind these products to reach the public. The council, a not-for-profit agency that represents Alberta’s ICT sector, seeks greater visibility for an industry that sometimes “gets lost” in the mix, according to Patrick Binns, the council’s executive director. He says the council’s mission is to “create a brand for Alberta’s ICT sector,” and help all parties better understand the value of collaborating as part of a larger “ecosystem” for technology products and services. Dr. Pierre Boulanger, Adjunct Professor, TRLabs in his virtual reality lab. Photos: Courtesy of TRlabs12 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  12. 12. and chair of Alberta’s ICT Council, one of the council’s main goals is to “promote how information and communication technologies such as broadband, wireless and digital Leo Yeung, TRLabs media can improve the delivery of services in such areas as water-quality management,Photos: Courtesy of TRlabs environmental monitoring, health care and learning.” TeleHeAlTH pIoneerS Ogaranko says “Alberta has been a pioneer in telehealth networks,” with significant e-health efforts under way “at universities and in the IT sector.” For example, the University of Alberta, in concert with Seiko and Sony, has developed a wearable physiological monitoring system, which takes a person’s “Alberta’s ICT Council is focused on five consortium. TRLabs fosters “innovation pulse and blood-glucose level and sends that initiatives – sector awareness, sector alignment, across multiple industry sectors, and information back to a clinic. access to capital, access to markets, and access innovation for the ICT industry in Alberta,” SuperNet, a high-speed broadband network to skills,” says Binns. “Those initiatives support he says. The organization works with operated by Internet provider Axia (www. technology commercialization of ICT products universities to fund students and professors, axia.com), has “made a profound difference” and services that impact our economy. In this and bridge the gap between industry and in people’s lives in Alberta, “allowing them capacity, the council promotes ICT developers, education. to communicate much better,” according such as companies developing digital media; As a “broker and technical adviser,” to Randy Goebel, vice-president of Alberta ICT distributors such as telcos, digital TRLabs plays a role in developing e-health Innovates Technology Futures. The network’s networks, and resellers; and ICT markets.” solutions to alleviate the high costs of health goal is to eliminate the digital divide between Binns believes the council has been effective care, which are driven by “a large aging rural and urban Albertans by making Internet in bringing together industry leaders with population” and a greater incidence of service affordable to all Albertans, regardless other ICT groups and increasing awareness chronic diseases. TRLabs uses technology of their location or income. of Alberta’s ICT strength. In addition, the to improve delivery of health care through SuperNet delivers to formerly unserved council has played a key role in helping bring “remote health-care monitoring, telehealth, areas, says Drew McNaughton, chief new technologies to market, and creating and self-diagnosis tools,” Tasker says. technology officer at Axia. In fact, SuperNet a better understanding among small and is often “the main network provider in rural MAnAGInG your own HeAlTH CAre mid-sized businesses about the value of Alberta,” Ogaranko adds. Through Axia’s implementing new technologies in their TRLabs aims to develop products that allow NGN solution, which “underpins SuperNet,” businesses. “consumers to take greater ownership of their Alberta’s global-interconnect grid connects One way to get your product noticed is to health care,” and “bridge the gap between 429 communities. help resolve an international incident. Blackline traditional health-care providers and self- SuperneT DelIverS GPS attracted media attention this year with managed health care.” its Harpoon product. When a yacht was stolen TRLabs also supports initiatives to improve SuperNet’s education opportunities from its Florida marina, the vessel’s Harpoon the efficiency of transportation services include delivery of specialized courses in GPS-based security system alerted the captain, using new technologies, such as RFID (radio such areas as math and physics to students who was then able to alert the U.S. Coast guard. frequency identification) and GPS (global in remote areas, access to more than 400 Aircraft and coast guard cutters pursued the positioning systems). To cite one practical online courses offered by eCampus Alberta’s vessel, which headed for Cuba where Cuban application, it is helping the City of Calgary 15 post-secondary institutions, and access to authorities intercepted it. The suspected explore the use of RFID and GPS to predict welding and electrician apprenticeships via smugglers are now in Cuban custody. the arrival time of buses and trains, and videoconferencing by the Northern Alberta In another effort to improve consumer determine which technology works best. Institute of Technology security, BlackLine introduced in Canada The organization also helped with a project That’s for starters. Exciting bleeding-edge the “Entourage PS, a portable product that called eScan for the province of Alberta, breakthroughs are going on behind closed delivers similar features to the Entourage which involved interviewing leaders on the doors 24-7 throughout Alberta’s rapidly CIS,” but, unlike that product, “is armed directions new digital technologies are taking, expanding tech sector. In the past, California’s manually or via a BlackBerry or iPhone,” and their potential impact on Alberta life. famed Silicon Valley captured all the ink for Swanson says. According to Tom Ogaranko, president innovative technology. It’s only a matter of Robert Tasker is president and CEO of of Kanata Health Solutions, a developer of time before Alberta overtakes it as a creative- TRLabs, a nonprofit telecom- and IT-research personal health-care monitoring solutions technology Mecca. • Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 13
  13. 13. Integrating ICT into health care saves money… and lives bellevue, ab, feb. 27, 2011/ troy media/ – Four years ago, when pharmacist Darsey Milford decided to open her own dispensary, she scrambled to outfit her business with the latest technology. She had read all about the electronic health network in Alberta, and “how it was up and coming.” “I was in a bit of a panic to get ourselves connected. I felt like we were behind the eight ball,” says the owner of Turtle Mountain Pharmacy in the small southern Alberta community of Bellevue. When the business finally opened its doors in 2007, Milford was stunned to learn she wasn’t behind the curve; she was leading it. Hers was actually the first independent pharmacy to migrate to the Alberta Netcare Portal, a province-wide program that provides instant access to medical information like lab reports and diagnostic imaging. And after seeing how it has transformed her business, her industry and the lives of patients, Milford says she’s surprised it hasn’t been more widely implemented across Canada: “It enhances what we do so much.” CloSInG THe proDuCTIvITy GAp Health care is just one Canadian sector where there are huge opportunities to enhance productivity by using information, communications and digital technology, the prescription for a prosperous economic future. Once an ICT leader, Canada has fallen behind the United States – its main competitor and trading partner – in technological innovation. Studies show that, size for size and sector for sector, a firm in Canada invests only 62 per cent per employee in technology as a comparable firm in the U.S. “That’s a huge gap,” says Bernard Courtois, president and chief executive of Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). “That’s causing a prosperity gap and concern for our future, our competitiveness Alberta Netcare Portal is a province-wide program that provides instant access to medical information14 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  14. 14. freeing up more time to spend with patients. It’s made her practice extraordinarily efficient. Everything from appointment scheduling and email reminders, to billing to communicating with other physicians is done digitally, saving both time and money. “There are no bodies pushing paper around,” says Goldade. “We used to get 400 pieces of paper a week,” referring to the mass of medical information flowing in from hospitals, labs and other doctors’ offices that necessitated an employee for filing. The efficiencies created in her office not only boost her bottom line, but benefit the broader health system. Alberta has led the drive toward e-health and has spent $674 million on the plan since 1999. The province will pump another $108 million into it over the next three years. The final bill is expected to reach about $1.4 billion by the time the project is fully implemented.An electronic medical record means less time is wasted on paper work. Innovation doesn’t come cheap With health expenditures in Canada expected to increase by 30 per cent in the next few years, ICT has a critical role in findingin the future and prosperity. Most of the what that would mean, not just in terms of our new ways to boost productivity.productivity in today’s economy comes from prosperity, but in terms of our being able to “E-health offers new opportunities for newthe digital economy.” pay for our social programs like health care.” optimized processes, reduced administration, The challenge Canada faces is to get TeCHnoloGy MAkeS MeDICIne patient-centric care and patient-directedcompanies to aggressively use technology MobIle care,” says Patrick Binns, president of Abinsito grow their businesses and make them Solutions Group, an innovative Alberta-basedcompetitive, Courtois says. Like pharmacist Darsey Milford, whose consulting firm that helps organizations grow iPad makes her office mobile, Dr. RoxanneTHe exAMpleS Are nuMerouS. within their areas of business. Goldade has seen technology transform Binns, also the executive director of Alberta For starters, ICT can be used to automate her practice. Her laptop and iPhone are ICT Council, says electronic medical recorda small-or-medium-size business’s supply critical tools in her work as a pediatrician, as systems also result in less duplication ofchain or how it deals with customers. Sales important as her stethoscope. treatments, which is better for both patientsteams can be equipped with technology While most doctor’s offices or clinics have a and the overall health system, which is primedthat allows them to address customer needs packed waiting room at any given hour, there for a radical technological overhaul.and e-commerce can provide access to new, are never usually more than one or two seats “There are huge and gross inefficiencies inuntapped markets. occupied in the tidy southwest clinic Goldade the health system because of processes that are There are myriad ways technology creates shares with another physician. 50 and 100 years old,” Binns says.efficiencies, whether it’s software that allows Goldade packs her laptop from one patient As Milford and Goldade point out,paperless customer billing or inventory waiting room to the next, typing in symptoms integrating ICT into a business can save “a lottracking systems that reduce waste. and answers to questions as they are offered of money.” But in health care, it can also be a It’s not always about the plumbing - the instead of scribbling indecipherable notes intohardware and computer systems – it’s a chart hours after a patient’s visit. matter of life or death.•about how to use information within the It isn’t just about efficiency; an electronicorganization; using online tools to manage record also makes charts more readable torelationships internally and externally. other doctors, a profession is often mocked for “One of the biggest challenges… for Canada its poor handwriting skills.is that we have a productivity gap with the “It’s not a joke. Doctors still have terribleU.S.,” Courtois says and Canada could grow handwriting,” says Goldade, pointing outits economy by 20 per cent if the productivity the potential for medical mistakes because ofgap was addressed, especially in lagging illegible prescriptions or charts.sectors such as manufacturing, construction, An electronic medical record also meansenergy and agriculture, he says. “Imagine Goldade wastes less time pushing paper, Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 15
  15. 15. Alberta companies create bleeding-edge mobile apps calgary, ab, feb. 25, 2011/ troy media/ - Michael Sikorsky was once called an “Internet revolutionary” by Profit Magazine and a “CEO to watch” by CNN Money. So when the 38-year-old Calgary programmer speaks about the future of mobile applications, people pay attention. And like others in the industry, the co- founder (along with his wife Camille) of Robots & Pencils, sees the smartphone applications, known simply as apps, about to explode at a pace unlike anything previously seen in the world of cyberspace. The rate of adoption is about two or three times faster than the rate at of the desktop, Sikorsky says. “The trend is crazy, it’s unbelievably fast. Faster than when Netscape took off.” The reason is simple - today’s cellphones, combined with the rapidly increasing number of apps available, is like having a laptop in your pocket. “And it’s not kids, it’s all of us, the entire world is going mobile,” says Jim Barr, founder of Snowseekers, a multi-media company providing education and information about where to find snow fun in Western Canada. “We’re looking at statistics suggesting that, by 2014, there will be more of us in North America accessing the Internet via mobile than there will be via desktop,” says Barr. “We’re at the same point now in terms of technological advances as we were when the Internet got launched.” While most of today’s apps are entertainment-based, that is about to change as companies recognize the potential to market their products at home and abroad. And Alberta companies are caught up in the explosion. Edmonton’s Victor Rubba, owner of Fluik Entertainment, says his company is working with a spa manufacturer to build an app that will allow users “to use your smartphone to control your spa from anywhere.”16 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  16. 16. There are apps providing immediate information on local hotspots, along with directions to find them; others allow people to keep in touch with friends in real time, and companies to track time devoted to clients. The last, says John Carpenter, chief technical officer at Calgary’s Mob4Hire, a service that tests and reviews new apps, “is critical information. It allows (an independent Find snow fun with contractor) to assign a call to a client as soon SnowSeekers as you hang up, making it billable.” DevelopMenT IS expenSIve Sikorsky says because it is hard to produce a well-developed app for less than $50,000, companies are continually looking for ways to recoup their costs. Last year, Snowseekers experimented with a paid app - for $1.99 clients can purchase a “chapter” on local ski areas that provided information ranging from snow conditions to hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other activities available. They sold about 7,000 chapters, nowhere near enough to cover development costs. (Snowseekers has since updated and improved its app.) But Visa is experimenting with embedding credit cards into phones, allowing users to purchase products through their apps on their Trip Tik app provides Visa account. That could open up huge new maps and directions revenue streams for companies. The Wall Street Journal says global revenue from mobile apps could increase from $4.1 billion last year to $17.5 billion by 2012. “You could also use it for control of media through GPS technology,” says Frank Fotia, Barr says one of the huge advantages ofin your house. It can be a remote control vice-president of insurance, automotive, and mobile apps, for both clients and companies,for your TV, use it for home automation, corporate affairs for CAA. is that ”opposed to a static piece of media,download apps to control your security Fluik Entertainment is working on an this is one that’s living and breathing and cansystem from your phone.” app to allow mortgage brokers and agents be fed content on a regular basis . . . so for to fill out forms on their iPads, and recently the user the experience is increased tenfoldMobIle App THAT STArTS AnD because they have everything they need developed one for Grower Direct to improveMonITorS CArS right on their hip. You’re never going to leave service for their customers. Another app, developed by Edmonton- That app will allow customers to order home without your phone.”based Certified Tracking Solutions, will allow their flowers through their phones, access Sikorsky, whose company slogan is “wemotorists to use their iPad or Blackberry to the company’s 300 pages of information and love to make things for the iPhone, web andremote-start and monitor their vehicles from hook into the messaging database to allow desktop,” suggested that apps will be “wayany distance - even another country - as long Grower Direct to send text messages alerting bigger than the Internet,” perhaps leading toas there’s wireless coverage. customers of upcoming holidays. the end of laptops in companies. He says that The Canadian Automobile Association’s Health and fitness apps are becoming more he can only imagine where the future will takeTrip Tik app provides maps and directions, competitive and advanced in the ever-growing us.listings of approved hotels, routes to addresses, genre for mobile devices. There are apps to “You would need a crystal ball,” Sikorskyand its Roadside app allows the CAA to find provide a comprehensive study of a user’s says. “But you just know it’s going to be huge.your vehicle and send help. workout, monitor his or her weight, heart rate When I look at what people are asking us to “By simply tapping open our app on your and calories burned, map out runs and bike do, and what we’re building, I can tell thatiPhone screen and clicking the “request for rides, calculate body mass index or track and 2011 is going to be a turn-around year forassistance” button, we will quickly receive analyze sleep patterns, all while auto tweeting businesses.” •your request for service and your location and updating Facebook. Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse 17
  17. 17. “Dentists, hospitals, labs – they all need a sterile environment,” he says. “I did not know this when we first began, but it turns out that the keyboard is often the most contaminated surface in the hospital. You would think toilets, or doorknobs, but those get cleaned more often than the keyboard or mouse.” The Cleankeys keyboard solves the germ problem by removing the mechanical keys. Its glass or acrylic surface is flat, and its touch- capacitive technology senses keystrokes just like a touch screen on a mobile phone or a bank machine. TypInG wHIle TAkInG A bATHCleankeys’ randy Marsden Unlike other touch-screen keyboards, however, the Cleankeys model can sense when a user is resting their fingers instead of typing.takes a Swype at texting This provides a normal keyboard on a surface that can be cleaned like any countertop to minimize the risk of infection. Although it was developed with medical professionals in mind, the Cleankeys edmonton, ab, troy media/ – Muhammad Ali Marsden’s current project, the Cleankeys keyboard has drawn interest far beyond the once boasted that he was so fast that when he keyboard, is in the nascent field of hygienic hygienic computing field and the company turned off the light switch in his hotel room, computing and has the potential to help may begin to license its innovations for he was in bed before the room was dark. hospitals and clinics worldwide fight personal computing. Cleankeys Inc. CEO Randy Marsden’s infections. “We’ve had a number of inquiries, but one boasts are a little more modest. “The ‘Eureka!’ moment came when a dentist of the more bizarre ones was with a company “I invented the world’s fastest way to enter bought a camera for people who cannot use in the U.K. that wants to make some sort of text on screen,” he says about Swype, a text their hands,” says Marsden. “I got hold of an entertainment solution for people taking input system that he co-developed around the him, and asked, ‘Why are you buying this?’ a bath,” says Marsden. “Apparently there are idea that people could write by sliding a finger By asking that question, I learned about this quite a few people soaking in tubs who want across a touch screen keyboard. “We broke world of infection control.” to be able to type.” • the Guinness World Record for texting speed twice this year!” Impressive? Certainly, but when looking at Marsden’s two decades as an innovator, Swype almost looks like a diversion, at least in terms of the impact on the quality of life of his customers. GerM-Free keyboArD Ever since he developed a communication device for a quadriplegic friend when he was a student at the University of Alberta in 1987, Marsden has been a pioneer in the field of assistive technology. His innovations have helped millions worldwide.18 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication
  18. 18. what we have here is a failure to communicate By Patrick Binns edmonton, ab, troy media/ – We have TV channel of interest). Despite the many ExEcutivE DirEctor many more ways to communicate than we options available, people tend to pick the AlbErtA ict council did 150 years ago and that is increasingly wrong communication channel. How many becoming a problem. times of you heard of someone breaking off a It’s becoming increasingly difficult to relationship via Facebook? even confirm receipt of a message or to These new sets of commonly-used gain the attention of the recipient. Email, communication channels are beyond the previously a trusted channel, cannot be relied control of corporate IT groups, which is on because of spam blocking devices that creating significant problems as users expect consume messages without responding to the these tools to work reliability within their originator. corporate networks. More importantly, Now add in the fact that many people have controlling confidential materials and meeting multiple email accounts, and the problem legislated records retention requirements is becomes even more dire. Which do you use? becoming increasingly complex. And which is for business and which for Corporations are also challenged by the pleasure? What happens when the person gets personal use of external communication a new job or moves to a new Internet service technologies (YouTube, Skype, and others) provider? which are consuming valuable network resources. Their uncontrolled use reduces productivity and increases corporate network costs. TIMe To lIMIT CoMMunICATIon CHAnnelS Effective communications is one of the most important skills to have in today’s world. The number of communication events grows geometrically as the size of the team increases. We can avoid miscommunication by limiting the channels we use, defining preferred inbound channels and selecting channels preferred by the message recipient. THe CoSTS oF new Don’t over-communicate. And use network CoMMunICATIon ToolS infrastructure responsibly by not loading it It’s a much more complex time than the with high-definition video content. • 1800s, when people communicated by word of mouth, letter, printed books, and social gatherings. By the 1950s, technology gave us the telephone, audio recordings, billboards, movies and TV. Compare that relatively advanced time now, with e-mail, the Internet, SMS texting, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, web- Patrick Binns is the Executive Director of the conferencing and 500+ TV channels. Alberta ICT Council. The council works with There is a cost to this plethora of channels companies and stakeholders in Alberta to promote, in terms of communications risk and lost develop, and distribute ICT-based products. Contact: Patrick.Binns@AlbertaICT.ca productivity (having to check all your e-mail accounts, phone messages, and finding the20 Alberta’s ICT Powerhouse Volume 1 Issue 1 • A Troy Media Publication