Digital Solutions for Canadian Municipalities

The past few months have been challenging for everyone as we change the way we live, play and work. Many industries have been forced to pivot and find digital solutions to continue serving their customers in the “new normal”. Canadian municipalities are no different. With many municipal offices closed to the public or working at a reduced capacity, there has never been a better time to start introducing digital solutions to work safer and work smarter. Here are some great digital solutions from Canadian muniSERV members to get you started.

 

Citizen Engagement/Customer Service

 

 AccessE11 is a Municipal 311, Citizen Issue and Relationship Management platform designed to provide small to mid-sized municipalities with a simple, cost-effective means to manage citizen issues. The platform drives simplicity, reduced administration, stronger decision making and better compliance across specific areas of focus within local government operations. Citizens can report issues and monitor the status of their issue digitally, improving customer service and operational transparency.

 

Smart City/IoT

 

 Trilliant has revolutionized how municipalities, cities, energy providers and utilities manage their mission-critical operations. Trilliant connects the world of things (IoT) and incorporates Smart City functionality to new or existing networks. Municipalities can improve the efficiency of their offerings through the implementation of things like advanced metering infrastructure for water, electricity and gas, smart street lighting, smart network sensors and so much more.

 

Treasury

 

 Clik2Pay  is a customer billing payments solution that allows citizens to receive and pay their tax bills or other municipal invoices directly from their smartphone. Municipalities benefit from quicker payments and simplifed bill collection, all for less than it costs to pay by debit or credit card.

 

Payroll Efficiency

 

 Mother Clock  Inc. is a fully integrated time tracking payroll platform that is modernizing payroll technology. This tablet-based time tracking service is the solution for businesses that want to abandon paper-based processes.  Mobile employees can use their smartphones to clock-in/out with GPS time tracking, increasing accountability.

 

Cyber Security & Training

 

 RiskAware provides municipalities with an Information and Cyber Security advantage through governance, training, education and risk management. They can help you assess your digital risks before getting started.

 

Digital Transformation Consulting

 

 ArchITectAbility provides IT Advisory, Assurance, Architecture and Governance expert services as well as Business Process Re-engineering offerings. If you’re not sure where to start your digital transformation, here you go!

 

These are just a few of the great Canadian companies that are helping municipalities go digital. 

 

Search our  Find a  Consultant database by service, business name, province or city, for even more of our members’ innovative digital solutions, to help municipalities simplify processes and find efficiencies! 

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Immunity

 

No individual, no organization, no place is completely immune from some form of a disruptive event. Pandemics, epidemics, financial and government unrest, terrorism, on top of the myriad of natural disasters and the consequences of those events that countries, states, provinces, cities, large enterprise, and small/medium business all could experience.

With these disruptive events, all of the aforementioned entities have difficult decisions to make with regards to their investment into response (and to what level of response), what level of security, what level of operational capability do they need during and immediately after these type of events and others.

How do we reduce the impact of disruptive events?

Invest in enhancing resilience. Organizations require the ability to prepare and plan, absorb and recover for and from disruptive events.

Building resilience, maintaining resilience, staying resilient.

Being resilient, allows organizations to be better equipped to anticipate disruptive events with the expectation that losses are reduced.

Disruptive events will continue. A proactive approach to enhancing your organization’s resiliency will reduce the economic, reputational, and operational affects that disruptive events can cause.

It all starts with a conversation.

We can Help. We’ve helped organizations enhance their resiliency, and will continue to do so with a collaborative approach and transparent communication.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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Risk Complacency

Why should you have a cyclical strategy to your risk and security?

Risk Complacency. You run the risk of being complacent. The one man-made hazard that is probably the easiest to avoid and the largest threat to any sized business, organization, government, event, institution, and book club. Okay, maybe not the book club.

 

So, what happened?

It was quiet. It was nice, there was a sense of security. Unfortunately, that feeling is usually supplemented with a lack of awareness. A lack of awareness of threats, dangers to your organization, those deficiencies that slowly creep up but yet can quickly hammer down all the previous work.

Plan out the work to get your organization on a cyclical strategy to address, manage and mitigate your risk and security threats.

Once planned out. Execute the plan. Do what you say you are going to do…and don’t stop.

Need help? We can Help.

It starts with a conversation.

As we say…Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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Organizational Resiliency – What else is it good for?

What else does organizational resiliency do for the organization aside from being able to carry on during and after a disruptive event?

  • Reduces stress – it reduces stress in those managing and working prior to, during and after an event
  • Increase in trust and confidence – employees believe in the leadership, each other, and the plan to move through an event
  • Reduces absenteeism – people are comfortable and confident in the decision making of their peers and the responsibilities they have
  • Improvement in physical health and wellbeing – with strong mental health comes stronger and maintained physical health
  • Productivity increases – a happy workforce wants to produce
  • An alert workforce – reduction in accident and workplace injuries
  • Learning power – with overall personal health and wellbeing comes the drive, adaptability to learn and the willingness to be flexible in the event of change

There are other benefits to making your organization resilient that are not just about the bottom line.

We can help your organization in building your risk and security management program resiliency.

It starts with a conversation.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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Redesigning The Way Your Company Works

COVID-19 has changed the way we work, play, and interact with our world. Whether your company is a single or multiple branch office operation, with industrial facilities or mobile public and field workers — developing a clear, concise program requires careful consideration and detailed risk and resource assessments.

Unique challenges require unique customized solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for businesses and workforces all across Canada. Public health departments, government leaders, and associations provide continual streams of information where business owners and executives must analyze this information to the best of their ability, providing direction in the creation of customized solutions for their business.

Barantas Inc. (Barantas) has remained focused on the core principles of prevention and safety services offering clarity and direction to company programs and operational procedure development.

Barantas can assist in any of the following key areas:

  • Business re-opening plans and implementation strategies
  • Operational redesign of workspace management
  • Worker inter-personal safety prevention programs and methodologies
  • Workforce programs for office, industrial, municipal and education sectors
  • Construction project-specific pandemic enhanced programs and inspections
  • Health and safety manual and policy development
  • Personal protective equipment supply and sourcing (masks, gloves, face shields)

Barantas provides comprehensive, long-term protection strategies and a personalized partnership anchored by our commitment to service excellence.

Redesigning Workplaces in a Post Pandemic Era

Our national reach and multi-disciplinary approach to safety management allow you to access a complete suite of health and safety services for a fraction of what it would cost you to source these services individually.

Barantas interactively works with you in evaluating and developing your new workplace strategies and worker health and safety management. Our goal is to collaboratively provide our expertise and knowledge to your key persons or teams, building a sustainable, internal infrastructure focused on the health and safety of your workforce.

We utilize a FIVE phase process. This process begins with a data acquisition phase, where we learn and understand your business, through to ensuring your teams can execute, monitor and continually adapt your program to meet today’s and future challenges.

Our process is based on the following principles:

  • Risk Reduction: Focused on reducing risk through prevention methodologies using the hierarchy of controls.
  • Individual Health and Safety Protection: Ensuring your company is taking the precautions reasonable for the protection of workers, employees, clients and affected individuals.
  • Maintenance of Applicable Requirements: Continual monitoring of authority directives, legislative requirements, and corporate due diligence best practices combined into a preparedness program able to adapt to changing environments and new directives.
  • Education and Sustainability: As part of working with your team through the five-phase process, our goal is to ensure understanding and application of the principles and methodologies for key team members ensuring an ability to assess, respond and adapt to continual change in both external factors and internal business decisions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR 5 STEP PROCESS https://www.barantas.ca/the-five-phase-process/

For a full version PDF of this document https://www.barantas.ca/pandemicmanagement/

 

 

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Municipalities and the Use of Technology During the Pandemic

If our current situation due to COVID-19 has had any positive impact, it is that municipalities who have been hesitant to adopt technology are now realizing just how vital it is. In the past, many municipal employees were unable to work from home due to technology limitations and concerns about the protection of confidential information. Let’s take a look at how some municipalities are adapting to the “new normal”.

 

WASAGA BEACH, ONTARIO

While other municipalities have set up a system allowing many staff to work from home instead of reporting to town offices, in the case of Wasaga Beach, the risk of an information breach has prevented them from allowing staff to work off-site.

“We had a cyber-attack almost three years ago that has made us wary of the security of confidential information being transmitted over the Internet from off-site locations,” said Communications Officer Michael Gennings.

“We have implemented many of the measures that other municipalities have, including work shifts to increase physical distancing. Should the pandemic situation change, the municipality will consider its options at that time.”

“Staff that must stay home are required to use vacation time or explore a leave. The bulk of our workforce remains onsite. Some have taken leaves.”

Wasaga Beach council is meeting via video conference for regular meetings, and in council chambers for closed session meetings.

 

MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA

The City of Medicine Hat has laid off 170 workers – about 15% of its workforce – and has deferred filling many summer positions as it wrestles with closures and budget stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Hall is attempting to conduct as much business as possible, but with less physical interaction and higher safety standards. “The City of Medicine Hat has taken the approach that it’s business as usual during an unusual time,” said Dennis Egert, the city’s corporate services commissioner,  pointing to online, teleconferencing, or directing resident queries via email rather than in-person meetings. 

 

NOVA SCOTIA

Despite the roadblocks presented by COVID-19, Nova Scotia’s municipal elections will go forward as scheduled. Electors from all 49 provincial municipalities will go to the polls on October 17 in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act stipulation that elections be held every four years on the third Saturday in October.

Chuck Porter, Minister of the province’s municipal affairs department, told reporters “At this point, we see no reason why municipal elections can’t move forward. We’re all adapting to do business differently these days and certainly we will work with (municipalities) to offer support where we can.

“We’ve done things in the past like electronic voting, by-phone voting in some circumstances. So I think there are a number of options that are out there for us to be able to vote this coming fall.”

How is your municipality dealing with social distancing, council meetings, and more? We would love to hear from you! Drop us a line and let us know how you are doing … [email protected]

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Older adults could be our ticket to prosperity after the pandemic

It has certainly been a challenging period in all our lives both personally and professionally.

This is one reason why I wrote this article which highlights how the pandemic has unfortunately reinforced ageist bias on one hand, and yet has been able to take advantage of the skill, expertise and experience of older medical professionals on the other.

As businesses emerge from the lock down, they may benefit enormously from a cohort of older adults who still want to contribute by working. I see this as a win-win for all. If you can circulate the article to friends and/or on social media, or if you know of any companies, businesses, organizations who might benefit from Top Sixty’s expertise as they resurface, I would greatly appreciate hearing from them.

Thanks for your help as we fight one of the last socially acceptable “isms”.

Warm regards,

Helen

See Helen’s Profile

 

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3 Communications Tips for Managing Anywhere, Anytime (plus a Free Gift!)

We’re in approximately week 5 of working remotely for many and it is likely working better for some than for others. As the leader, you may be wondering how you can better manage your relationships with the people on your team while working remotely.

 

There are two critical considerations that contribute significantly to improving relationships and engagement. The first, is that we don’t all have the same communication style; and, the second is that we aren’t all driven/motivated by the same things.

In this article, we’ll start by sharing three tips to help you improve your communication with the people on your team when working remotely.

It’s not a one-size fits all!

We tend to all have our own communication preferences and style. Some of us have a higher energy level and some don’t. Some of us tend to gain our energy from social interactions while others may find that draining.

The key point to remember is that people like people like themselves. Ever hear of birds of a feather? And no, opposites don’t naturally attract.

First you have to understand your own communication style. Are you forceful, decisive, strong-willed or do you tend to be low-key, mild and a collaborator? Are you a person who is magnetic, enthusiastic, demonstrative or are you more restrained, controlled, non-animated and more reserved? Perhaps you are the person that tends to be more patient, steady and relaxed or are you more active, flexible, and fat-moving? Lastly, maybe you tend to be more dependent, neat, careful and always have lots of research on a topic or maybe you’re more uninhibited and unconventional. You may say that you have a variety of these traits and that may be so, but each of us has a primary communication style that most people see most of the time. 

So what happens when you are communicating with someone that is the opposite of your style? Might the other person sometimes tune out? Do you sometimes tune out when someone is speaking that is quite different from you? If you’re more of that direct communicator and I’m the opposite, do I drive you nuts when I come in with pages of data and absolutely need you to understand every single point I’ve uncovered? Likely. After all, didn’t you ask me to give you the key highlights? How’s that communication working out?

Remember, people buy from people they like and people like people like themselves.

Learn to People Read

People reading isn’t as difficult as it may sound. With a bit of background knowledge you can start people reading anywhere anytime. One of the keys to people reading is not talking but rather observing. When we’re talking, we’re not listening. At the end of this article, you will have a chance to receive a free personalized Working From Home report and in that report that are some clues to identifying others’ preferred communication styles.

What verbal and non-verbal cues is the person giving you? Perhaps you’ve just finished yet another team zoom meeting. Granted it’s more challenging to pick up on non-verbal cues on virtual calls but you know your team so you should be able to pick up on clues. Do they appear drained after calls or are they leaving wanting more? It’s often more important to observe body language and what is not being said than to what is being said.

Learn to Flex…your style that is!

When I talk about flexing your style in communication workshops, people sometimes ask me if that isn’t manipulation. It’s only manipulation if the intent is not honourable. The #1 thing you can do to improve communication with anyone is to meet them where they are.

Flexing your style is the art of adapting your style to match the style of the person you are communicating with. It helps create that symbiotic cadence. If the other person is more reflective, has a lower tone of voice and a slower pace in speaking than is normal for you, try flexing your style to mirror those behaviours. It will take a lot of conscious effort and practice to get good at it but you will start to see the benefits before too long.

It’s as easy as 1…2…3

Your people aren’t all one size thus your approach can’t be a one-size fits all either. Take the time to connect with each member of your team one-on-one for the purpose of listening. Start with an observation using self-responsible language or with an open-ended question…and then listen and observe.

As you become better at the super skill of people reading, you and your team will reap the rewards of improved communication, relationships and engagement.

Our gift to you and your organization – The Working From Home Report

During this unprecedented time, our partner TTI SI has created a special Working From Home report. The questionnaire is the same highly-validated research-based questionnaire used for all our behaviours reports but this report has been designed to be easy to digest without the need for individual or group debriefs. No strings attached. You won’t be solicited if you take us up on our offer. TTI SI’s goal is to give away 10,000 of these reports each day in North America.

TTI SI has been on the cutting edge of the assessment solutions industry for over 30 years. They have administered over 30 million assessments worldwide in 115 countries in 47 different languages. Data norming and rigorous data analysis conducted by both internal research teams and independent statisticians help ensure our assessments are the most reliable and accurate tools in the market.

Ready? Click here. This link will take you to a page on our website where you can view a sample of the report, view answers to FAQs and a link to respond to the questionnaire to get your own personalized report. It only takes 10 minutes to complete. After you’re done, you will receive your report immediately in your inbox and will be taken to a page to download a PDF of our Action Plan worksheet for your personal use.

I hope you accept our gift and that you and your team use your personalized reports to improve working relationships. A fun follow-up activity is to have your team share their primary style from page 2 of the report so that you can all begin to see your behavioural similarities and differences and learn to appreciate what each person brings to the team.

Feel free to share this WFH report link with colleagues, friends and family.

Sophie Mathewson, PCC

Strategic Coach & Advisor

Prism Group Int’l

prismgroup.ca

Specializing in working with leaders that want to create more cohesive senior teams to achieve their purpose and vision

 

Sophie can be reached at [email protected] 

 

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Pandemic/Epidemic Business toolKIT

We are deeply focused on keeping your employees, customers, and suppliers safe while working, visiting, or conducting business at your facilities and supporting your business operations.

The Michael White Group International and Hilt International Security have partnered together in order to create a dynamic resource that is continuously growing, developing, and being  revised to keep you informed of the latest requirements, new best practices, and procedures.

As we all continue to navigate our  ‘new normal’, we have tapped into our global resources to develop a toolKIT that lays out processes to raise awareness of new health and well-being protocols and potentially helpful practices for cross-functional teamwork, operating discipline, and training for employees.

While it is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the Pandemic/Epidemic Business toolKIT includes practical recommendations, based on guidelines from Health Canada and World Health Organization, that could be tailored for different  businesses (when required) to address various scenarios they may face when returning to work. Regular updates will be made to the toolKIT based on real-time feedback. The toolkit covers a wide range of topics, including:

•      Step-by-step guides for setting up a pandemic response team

•      Cleaning and disinfection procedures

•      Staggering shifts and lunch breaks and other physical distancing strategies

•      On-site health screening

•      Protocols for isolating employees who become ill at work

•      & more.

This has been a difficult time for everyone, and re-establishing a workplace where employees feel comfortable performing their jobs safely is a multi-faceted challenge. It is our hope that by developing and providing this resource we can help your organization accomplish and adapt to the new operating protocols in today’s still ever challenging conditions.

Should your Municipality be open to exploring the need, whilst accessing our  toolKIT to assist you during  the re-opening, and re-populating of your facilities, contact Michael White Group International today, and in partnership with Hilt International Security we will be happy to assist.

 

 

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The WE Approach to Online Meetings

Well I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this crazy unprecedented time.  As I prepare to go on yet another online meeting I was thinking about the previous normal and how meetings were often named as a #1 waste of time in the workday.  People can drift and disengage with meeting fatigue.  Good gracious, how are we going to keep focus online?

Firstly, lets all commit to show up on camera. It gives us a fighting chance. Next, apply the basics of an effective meeting:

  1. Make sure the meeting is necessary
  2. Clarity of purpose
  3. Have an agenda and publish it beforehand.
  4. Be clear why each participant is attending.
  5. Always remember the simple, common courtesies of life, particularly if you need to win support and build relationships. Make people feel welcome by creating a comfortable environment now more than ever!
  6. Promote openness and honesty in your meetings.  Create the psychological safety necessary for this and the quality of the conversation will be much greater.
  7. Ensure you keep time. People need to feel their time is valued.
  8. Contribution is important. Ensure all participants have opportunities to participate, especially those whose preference is to reflect and consider the views of others before speaking. They often have very valuable insights that should not be missed.
  9. Carry out regular and frequent summaries. This will enable everyone to check understanding and confirm what has been discussed/agreed. Research suggests that in effective meetings someone summarizes at least every 5 minutes.
  10. Record – In our current reality most online platforms can do so and then you can decide on options for providing access to the recording. Or old school it and have someone take notes and send that to all who participated.

Strive for continuous improvement. Obtaining feedback from participants on what was useful about the meeting and what could have been done differently is valuable information.  We can flatten our on-line meeting learning curves by actively listening and implementing improvements.

Remember that teams are cognitively and behaviorally diverse and if we follow the basics, we will help everyone engage in a meaningful online meeting experience! 

Now let’s effectively Zoom ourselves through this 😊!

Gail Green, President and CEO

Emergenetics Ontario

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