How have the pandemic adaptations affected your Physical Security?

Well into the COVID19 pandemic, organizations, governments big and small have had to take measures and make changes to their environments to adapt to the needs of their staff, customers, their service delivery model, requirements of health science, government agency regulations and perhaps “new” industry best practices and of course the ever-changing virus.

These measures have evolved into many different things. We’re going to specifically focus on physical security devices.

Two of the pervasive items that have been introduced in many environments are plexiglass and signage.

Organizations have installed plexiglass barriers at intersection points of personnel as they have the potential to interact with other personnel, customers, vendors, etc.

Informative signage itemizing physical distancing rules, self assessment health protocols have been placed all around in both strategic and random locations within the environment to ensure every opportunity for personnel and visitors to be informed.

Funny thing about all of this plexiglass barriers and signage.

In some cases, not all, we have inadvertently defeated some or many of the installed security devices functionality and purpose. That is, their ability to monitor, detect and alert (alarm).

  • Motion detectors blocked, unable to provide proper coverage
  • Cameras experiencing sun flare reflection off plexiglass
  • Nuisance alarms due to swinging signage on the increase
  • And other unforeseen affects

There are incidents where this is enough of this added material, that areas, although devices are active and functioning as per specifications, are unable to detect properly – leaving areas with no security detection or proper monitoring.

We have the answers.

Let’s go for a (physically distanced) walk and have a conversation.

Your security risk plans are more than just a motion detector or even a strategic camera placement.

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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$31 million Canada Healthy Community Initiative – open for proposals

The Government of Canada announced that the Community Foundations of Canada with the Canadian Urban Institute are open to receive and review your proposal for access to $31 million under the Healthy Communities Initiative.

https://youtu.be/1smdTfZF-zE

 

I attended the Canada Healthy Community Initiative launch webinar February 9 and reviewed the applicant guide which is focused on the increased recognition of social and digital infrastructure that contributes to healthy community outcomes. The applicant guide makes it easy to understand if your organization can apply.

 

The projects eligible for funding need to serve the public or a community disproportionately impacted by Covid19 and fall within three healthy community initiative themes, one of them being community projects that use innovative data and technology solutions to connect people and support healthy communities. Community projects that use digital technologies and solutions to encourage citizen engagement, use open data, online platforms or physical digital devices for public benefit.

All budget items must be project related and expenses occur between April 1 2020 and June 30 2022. Details on how anticipated expenses are outlined in the budget are included in the applicant guide.

You need to demonstrate community engagement. Planned continued engagement with the community to receive feedback on the project may also demonstrate the role of the community in delivering the project. Your team can also elaborate on your equity approach and principles for the project and how it relates to community outreach and feedback.

All projects focusing on the theme of digital solutions and any project that handles public data should demonstrate best practices of digital design and responsible data management. The good news for you and your organization is that Athena Software meets the needs for inclusive design and data management.

 

Athena can provide details on data management considerations including:

Collection – who can collect the data

Access – who can access the data

Use – Who can use the data

Openness – What data is attributed to an individual

Compliance – PIPEDA

Minimum funding is $5000. Maximum funding is $250,000

 

All budget items must be project related and incurred April 1 2020 to June 30 2022. The government provided a budget template in excel. We created a proposal for the Canada Healthy Community Initiative and integrated it with the budget template to help give you a head start on filling out the form. Let me know if you are interested in the proposal and excel budget template and we will send you the forms to begin the process.

 

The first round of funding opened February 9 2021 and will close March 9 2021 5 PM PST. Review committees begin making decisions March 10. All applicants will receive results by April 30 2021.

The second round of funding opens May 14 2021 9:00 AM AST and closes June 25 2021 at 5 PM PST. Applicants that did not receive funding in round one can apply for funding in round two. Review committees begin making decisions June 26. All applicants will receive results by August 13 2021.

 

You will need to check which region your project is in before you apply with the link to the map in the application guide. You will also identify the amount you are applying for. Any project over $100,000 will be reviewed at the national level.

 

Your application will be evaluated with many others in each community. Your application must meet the basic eligibility criteria including project rationale, community engagement, outcomes, project implementation and readiness fulfilling all of the following criteria:

 

  • Submitted by an eligible organization, and provides documentation
  • Responds to needs arising from COVID-19
  • Creates or adapts public spaces, or programming or services for public spaces in the public interest
  • Demonstrates consideration of and connections within the community
  • Serves the general public or a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
  • Falls within the Healthy Communities Initiative theme(s)
  • Submitted with a complete budget
  • Is requesting between $5,000 and $250,000
  • Incurs expenses between April 1 2020 to June 30 2022

Please join me March 5 at 1 PM EST for a hands-on webinar as we share ideas from communities that use Penelope to assist those most affected by Covid 19 and review proposals for new and current agencies using Penelope. You can find the registration page on our Athena web site. Hope to see you there. If you have questions before then call or email. Until then stay safe. We will see you soon.

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Covid-19 Increases HungerCount

 

The Covid-19 economy has reduced quality of life for many impacted by the pandemic. Individuals struggling with food security and mental health will increase. Innovative digital solutions can help collect data and apply data science to provide guidance on how best to manage the crisis with the resources in your community using proactive strategies that cost less and deliver better outcomes.

The Institute for Smarter Government can show you how.

Food Banks Canada monitors hunger across Canada each year with data collected from 4,934 organizations. There were over 1 million visits to Canadian foodbanks in 2019 delivering over 5.5 million meals. This was an increase of 47% over 2018. The pandemic will accelerate visits to the foodbank in 2020 and 2021 with an increase in mental health concerns at the same time.

In 2019, 57% of those requiring help with food were on social assistance, 48% came from a single adult household. One in eight were unemployed.

When Food Banks Canada annual survey HungerCount 2019 asked agencies what their clients’ main reason was for accessing a food bank, clients shared that their social assistance or benefits were too low. They had low or delayed wages. Some had lost their job and were unemployed or did not have enough hours. These four areas of concern accounted for 80% of those individuals requiring assistance from a food bank.

That was in 2019. With Covid in 2020 and now 2021, the economy will hit those living on the edge the hardest. Many families and single adults have less household income. Unemployment and reduced hours with lower pay will greatly accelerate the number of single adults and families arriving at the food bank in 2020/2021.

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Foodbanks HungerCount 2019

There are over 1.1 million Canadians receiving welfare and over 2 million if you include those with disabilities and mental health issues. The Canada Community Health Survey shows food insecurity has a statistically significant relationship with mental health variables.

The connection between food insecurity and mental health is greater with single person households now accounting for 48% of all households served. One in three of the single adults lives in poverty. Since 2016, seniors over 65 mostly with fixed incomes requiring an expansive array of expensive medications have increased visits to the food bank by nearly 30%.

Close to one in five single adults experiences food insecurity and many of those need support from a food bank to make ends meet. Many within this group have mental health issues that are exacerbated by poverty and low income. Many have mental health issues that go untreated for lack of supports available to them, are stuck in a cycle of inadequate social assistance or disability-related supports, or have lost a job and have nowhere to turn for new training and education programs to re-enter the workforce.

When the rent and wage subsidies transition back to the pre-covid economy, the need for food bank support will increase. Mental health and a range of other human service issues will surge.

Food Banks Canada will conduct research March 2021, across the nation to collect data from each community. Short term solutions will help address the immediate need for food while longer term solutions will focus on policy and try to address the question why. #BellLetsTalk offers some great Covid 19 resources to help everyone get through this together.

Canada is now seeing over 8,000 new case of the coronavirus each day. This is four times the rate when the pandemic started in 2020. Vaccines will help reduce transmission. This will take time.

Each community needs to understand how best to serve their population with the resources at hand. Innovative digital solutions can help begin collecting data in a client centric manner that makes it easier to apply analytics and create prescriptive programs that deliver better outcomes for less.

The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative makes it possible for every community to apply for Infrastructure Canada funding starting January 2021.

Be smart and get ahead of the Covid crisis. #Buildbackbetter Find out how to submit your proposal for funding at February webinar. Details will be posted shortly.

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Physical Security Risk: know how to assess it

 

Many small to medium sized business (and even large enterprise businesses)  and government, have limited budgets, let alone spending a lot on risk and security.

Before you do go and spend a lot of capital on risk and security mitigation measures (aka security cameras, access control, bars and locks, lighting, training, fencing, etc.), you need to know what you’re buying for.

That is, you need to know what risks you are addressing.

Risk dial

Having a Risk Assessment completed on your municipality narrows the focus of your spending and aligns your purchasing with the specific types of risk and security mitigation measures you need.

To get a little technical…Risk assessment is the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. It involves the process of identifying internal and external threats and vulnerabilities, identifying the probability and impact of an event arising from such threats or vulnerabilities, defining critical functions necessary to continue the organization’s operations, defining the controls in place necessary to reduce exposure and evaluating the cost of such controls.

That is a mouthful. Let us break this down a bit.

If you have a threat, but there is no vulnerability, then there is no risk.

If you have a vulnerability but no threat, no risk.

Perhaps something many can relate to, you went online and purchased some products, and they are set to be delivered to your home. And no, we are not going to discuss online security…a topic for another day perhaps.

The packages are delivered to your home. But because of your daily routine, errands, off to the office, or shop, you are not always home. The shiny object is the packages just delivered. The vulnerability or sometimes referred to as a gap, is you are not home, and the packages now sit on your front step unattended. The threat, someone will take those packages right from your front step.

So, going back to the assessment. The key is once you know what your largest threats are (and yes you need to be able to determine that), it is important that you take action (implement risk and security mitigation measures) to lower your vulnerability.

Why not eliminate the vulnerability?

Great question, thanks for asking.

Eliminating the vulnerability may not always be possible.

Some business sectors and industries simply have built-in threats. But, if we focus on lowering the vulnerability, we lower the risk of a loss.

The assessment is complete, and we have identified risks. The next important step is finding the risk and security measures that are going to be the most effective in mitigating the identified risk. These measures come in all different shapes and sizes, video surveillance, locks and safes, lighting, security focused training, etc.

Where in doubt, reach out to us or find your trusted Independent Risk and Security consultant.

Yes, we highlighted Independent. That is definitely a topic for another day.

It all 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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Municipalities Build Back Better With Whole Person Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of talk about a Build Back Better approach in our communities during the Covid 19 pandemic.  One strategy that helps address those in need is a Whole Person Care approach using a digital platform to collect and measure outcomes for wrap around programs which can be fully funded under the new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.

With the arrival of Covid 19, the amount spent on healthcare is increasing in every community. While the amount invested in healthcare is increasing, municipalities are spending up to 25% of their healthcare costs to support non-value add aspects in their healthcare system. Value-based care models help optimize what is spent to get the best outcomes. How do communities do more with less as Covid 19 increases health and economic risk? In the short term we will need to work together with what we have and find ways to get better outcomes for less.

We know that Covid 19 is accelerating value-based healthcare approach in communities. Whole-person care is not far behind.

Whole person care describes a wrap around approach that addresses complete physical health, behavioral health and social wellbeing. Communities that work together as a team to provide care for individuals with poorly managed conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and COPD are better equipped to improve health outcomes for less. Helping to manage care for this population most at risk relies on seamless information exchange, tele-health, care co-ordination and consumer engagement. All of these conditions are closely related to the social determinants of health.

Post acute care including home health, hospice and senior living facilities and human service including community mental health centers, addiction treatment centers and social service agencies in every community need to have the technology and skills to work as equal partners. Every community now has a chance to build back better with whole person care. 

Whole person care gets even better when amplified with data science and analytics that are driven with a prescriptive approach to patient care. To prepare our communities to deliver better outcomes during the pandemic, municipalities need to look at systems that offer interoperability – a framework that supports bidirectional exchange of data across systems and providers of care, a network to network bridge, policy agreements, discrete data and support for client consent and sharing that consent with others.

Consumer engagement with a patient portal makes it easier for hospitals and physicians to work with clients. Automated referrals, tele-health and patient information integration create a public care eco-system that serves the public in Covid 19 times. Building Back Better with the help of funding from the Canada Healthy Community Initiative makes it possible to accelerate the care you need in every community. Let us know if you need help with your digital transformation as you build back better in your community.

 

Learn more: Contact Athena Software

 

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Ensuring Accessibility in your Municipality

By law, as of January 1, 2021, all public sector organizations and private or non-profits organizations with 50+ employees must make their web content fully accessible and compliant under Ontario’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

How to Comply

 

To comply with WCAG, your public-facing website and all newer posted content must meet WCAG 2.0 standards (as outlined in the Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications). For more detailed information on what needs steps need to be done to make your website accessible visit – https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-websites-accessible.

 

It should also be noted that you don’t have to make changes to your internal website to make it accessible. As well, any content posted to your website before 2012 does not need to be modified to meet WCAG. However, if you are asked, you will need to work with individuals to make this content available to them in an alternate format such as large print or braille.

Tips for Testing your Websites for Accessibility

Once your website is updated to meet WCAG, it is a good idea to test your website out to make sure that your new or refreshed website is accessible before it is launched. Here are some good ways to ensure your website will be accessible for all of your users.

Automatic Assessment and Assistive Technology – Do a final review of your website using an automatic assessment tool that will help flag any issues that have not been resolved. An example of this would be to review your site using assistive technology like a screen reader to make sure the website’s design and technical aspects are accessible.

 

Review Key Milestones and Changes – It is a good idea to keep a record of the accessibility issues that have been made to your website. Doing this will allow you to see the completed work and how it has been made accessible. As well, having this done up can be helpful if your organization is asked to show how your website is WCAG 2.0 compliant.

 

Online Accessibility Checker – Use an online tool to check if your website is accessible. While using an online tool does not guarantee that you will find all accessibility issues it can still find somethings you might have missed. This is why it is important to have people review the site as well.

 

User Testing and Feedback – When possible, ask people with disabilities to test your site before it is launched. Receiving feedback from potential users will help you to find out if there are any further improvements needed.

 

If You Can’t Comply with WCAG

It may not always be possible to meet the WCAG 2.0 requirements. As an example of this, your website may have been created using software and other tools that predate WCAG 2.0.  While you may be able to update or repair the products you used to support accessibility, if this is not possible, you will need to make sure that when you refresh your website you use new software that supports accessibility.

 

As well, it may not be possible for you to post some content in a way that complies with WCAG 2.0. An example of this is when you post something like an online map or a complex diagram that is not readily accessible to people with visual disabilities. In cases like this, you may still post the content, however, you must provide it in an accessible format upon request.

 

In the end, the positive outcome of compliance with WCAG, is that your website will be accessible to everyone! 

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Covid 19 – Federal Funding for Municipal Solutions

The Covid 19 pandemic is creating a massive strain on resources in communities across Canada. Human service solutions in education, justice, social and health were never designed to take on this much for so long. Canadian municipalities are making adjustments to accommodate the surge in demand and the ever changing needs of their community. 

 

Some of our communities are now in the red zone creating the need for further restrictions. Federal, provincial and municipal governments are responding with additional funding and co-operation to help reduce the damage and improve the outcomes in less time. 

 

On August 13 2020, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced the creation of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative with up to $31 million ($19M 2020-21 & $12M 2021-22) in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.The demands placed on families and individuals by COVID-19 have exposed a real need for low-cost, locally-driven ideas to help communities adapt and thrive. The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help breathe life into these small projects that can have a big impact as local governments, Indigenous communities and their non-profit partners rethink public spaces and how they deliver services to people.”

 

While Infrastructure Canada (INFC) is providing the funding, there is another organization yet to be announced that will organize, evaluate and distribute funding based on your proposal. This announcement will be made shortly. Your municipality will be able to submit a Covid 19 related infrastructure proposal that is between $5,000-$250,000. Three focus areas are: digital solutions, improved mobility solutions and safe and vibrant public spaces. 

 

A community project that develops infrastructure -related solutions to address changing community needs through the use of data and connected technologies starts with the ability to understand who is affected, what is being delivered and what needs to be done with priority. Measuring outcomes and sharing this information in a secure way becomes the source of truth for social service, health, justice and education partners that are focused on helping those most affected by Covid 19. Any municipality working to solve these complex and rapidly evolving stress points without a case management solution will have overlapping solutions that cost more than required and fail to see the gaps, reducing the outcomes. When you have time and budget, municipalities will continue to manage human services in a way that offers a path with least resistance. 

 

Covid 19 has exhausted both time and budget. Human services in your community need to work together efficiently. Working to save lives today and preparing for the future depends on it. Athena Software is a Canadian company that has experience working with every level of government in 15 countries around the world helping them find a way to do more with less and get better outcomes. Let me know if you would like to see how this can work for your community. 

Learn more: Athena Software

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COVID-19 Pandemic – What’s next.

girl looking at a piece of paper

The pandemic continues to rapidly expand in communities across Canada. At the time of this article over 267,000 Canadians have contracted the disease, 217,000 are recovered and 10,552 died. The number of cases each day is accelerating.

The effects of this highly contagious disease are catastrophic when left unchecked. Health systems are at risk of collapse affecting all other health issues. Covid 19 is not just affecting health care. Municipalities are being asked to address the surge in demand in every human service sector – education, justice, social and healthcare.

Primary care and wait times are measured with traditional outcomes in most communities. The wave we do not see coming as easily is just outside of the range of a 911 call. Mental health issues, loss of income, housing, food, education, relationships are all affected with Covid 19. The cold dark days of winter are coming. The risks associated with Covid 19 and issues associated with the disease are going to increase over the winter months.

While a vaccine may be available early 2021, it’s unlikely every Canadian will have access to the vaccine when it is approved.

Municipalities need to proactively seek strategies that wrap programming around individuals and families at risk. Traditional models of care that involve home visits or appointments are shifting to tele-health.

The federal government in co-operation with the provincial and territorial governments announced funding and extension to funding as the need requires.

It’s time to consider the short and long term requirements of your community during and after the pandemic and make use of the funding currently available to enable your municipality to not just survive but build its way out to a better future.

Contact us to learn more about Athena Software!

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Oh, you’re in Procurement…so what do you do exactly?

eye glasses sitting on a mouse pad

Have you ever told someone you’re a Procurement Professional, and then spent the next 20 minutes explaining what a Procurement Professional does?

 

Why is it that doctors and lawyers can simply say they’re doctors or lawyers and leave it at that…but as Procurement Professionals we turn ourselves into pretzels trying to justify our reason for existence?

 

One of the reasons is because the procurement industry, and we ourselves as Procurement Professionals, haven’t done a good job of defining our role in an organization

 

Remember, if you don’t define your role then somebody else will do it for you

 

So if your internal clients think your job is to get quotes, cut POs and make sure invoices get paid…those are the only things they’ll want your help with

 

But if you can articulate and, more importantly, demonstrate your understanding of your organizations competitive market positioning

 

And how you’re responsible for aligning the supply chain with the organizations goals and objectives

 

Then getting quotes and cutting POs isn’t who you are, it’s just some of the MANY things you do as a Procurement Professional

 

No here’s the catch…saying and doing are two very different things

 

So before you start telling your colleagues about secondary sourcing strategies to mitigate offshore supply chain risk

 

Or why it’s important to implement formal vendor management and category management programs in your organization

 

You should also have the skillset to do actually these things

 

And to help with that, we just launched new Strategic Sourcing Essentials eLearning course I co-developed with my friend and colleague, Mark Morrissey

 

Mark and I cover 6 modules in the course:

 

  1. Aligning Strategic Sourcing with corporate goals and objective
  2. Competitive Positioning and Supply Chain Risk
  3. Leading Class Practices
  4. Vendor Management
  5. Negotiation Strategies
  6. Case Study – Process Transformation

 

You can go through the course at your own pace, and when you’ve completed it and submitted your responses to the final case study, you’ll receive a digital certificate of completion

 

You’ll also have access to the course for 1 year so you can always go back and review any of the modules or chat with your peers that are also taking the course

 

And if you’re in a team of 3 or more people, you can take advantage of our corporate rates

 

2020’s been a tough year and many people didn’t get a chance for any meaningful professional development

 

Well this is a chance to, not only tick a box on your year-end review, but actually build on your skillset as a procurement professional

 

For more information you can visit our website

 

Thanks and hope to see you in the course,

Mohammed 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you know what you want or need?

It is important that you know what you are asking for…so that it’s not risky.

You have asked for an Assessment. Stakeholders are concerned about security. Is the goal to look to identify your Security Risks, Threats, Consequences or Vulnerabilities? Or all of them? Collectively, there is a formula for that.

Risk = Threats + Consequences + Vulnerability

Do not be taken in by someone who says all assessments are the same.  A risk assessment, threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, security audit or even a business impact analysis are not the same as each other.

Square peg, round hole.

A Threat assessment looks to understand what entities may have an interest in creating a security concern or problem for your organization.

A Security Audit is a validation or verification that security measures that are currently in place are actually in place and doing what they intended to do. This audit focuses specifically on the effectiveness of security and determines if a known vulnerability is being addressed. It does not measure risk.

Vulnerability Assessments look to understand both consequences and vulnerabilities. Threats however within a vulnerability assessment are assumed to be at a high level. At the end of a Vulnerability assessment organizations quite often implement increased security measures to address the vulnerabilities and lower the consequences. This happens because the level of threat and the probability of an occurrence from happening is not actually analyzed.

The Consequence focused Business Impact Analysis identifies the most critical of assets to an organization and sets out to build resiliency around these identified assets, most commonly as a business continuity plan.  Business Impact Analyses do not address threats or vulnerability.

The Risk Assessment is the most effective means of determining security adequacy as it considers all three elements of risk – threat, vulnerability, and consequence.  A Risk assessment should be the methodology of choice if you are seeking to determine your security adequacy and avoid the potential pitfalls of not having all of the information.

But all is not lost. It is okay if your organization needs to only conduct one or several of the assessments mentioned above. There may be cause for you to do one assessment over another, resulting in a more intimate understanding of that particular assessments output.

We can assist your organization in determining which of these assessments is best for you given your organization’s current security risk landscape.

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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