How COVID-19 Permanently Digitized Site Selection

Have you ever had a meal, gone on a date, or enjoyed a vacation so good it made you never want to repeat the lower quality experiences you’ve had in the past? Why would you want to eat bad food, date a loser, or suffer scratchy hotel sheets when you knew there was a better way for you to live and you could keep living that way? That ah-ha moment is the same realization that happened with corporate site selection during COVID, and why professionals will not go back to the old way of doing business.

The global pandemic was a disaster for business expansions and relocations, including foreign direct investment (FDI). The data is clear that these projects declined significantly as a result of the COVID pandemic, just like the overall economy. It was natural that businesses were unsettled by the economic upheaval, so they were uncomfortable making multi-million-dollar corporate location decisions without physically and personally “kicking the dirt” as part of their due diligence.

Economic developers couldn’t physically travel to meet with businesses considering a prospective location expansion into their community, especially internationally, due to legal restrictions. Likewise, corporations weren’t travelling to meet with real estate developers or EDOs. The risk was too great; death from a virus or becoming quarantined outside of a home country made even aggressive businesspeople reconsider traditional operating procedures.

When traditional business practices fail, new strategies get implemented to overcome the obstacles; no companies want to be stuck being unable to take action to move their company forward, even in an unprecedented pandemic. And that’s exactly what happened with corporate expansions and site selection projects.

The only way to do site selection analysis leading to corporate location expansions in a non-physical world was to go digital. As a result, business, corporate real estate, and economic development engaged in a test of purely digital site selection out of necessity. But the result of the experiment was that it worked. The outcome of this positive result is that many businesses are discovering there is an alternative and better way to do site selection.

Of course, the transition toward online site selection has been a gradual trend that has been growing for decades. The difference is that COVID was a stress test to see if corporate site selection could be accomplished 100% digitally. Like other industries, this trial-by-fire accelerated trends and is normalizing new practices into standard operating procedures.

Digitization was not an experiment and trial run that was unique to economic development:

 Like these other digital experiments, digital site selection has revealed new advantages and proven theories. Digital site selection:

  • Enables companies to consider more communities faster
  • Communities can be more easily compared with objective and consistent benchmark data
  • Assumptions about the need for in-person were proven incorrect and that they were replaced with web meetings
  • Taking multiple web meetings gets more accomplished and is faster than flying and driving to numerous in-person meetings
  • Economic development GIS site selection software met the challenge to deliver relevant location information and site selection analysis in real-time

Two key reasons that companies will not go back to the old way of doing site selection are 1) they have discovered digital is an acceptable/preferable alternative and 2) their success story is being amplified in awareness to CRE peers and CEOs in other companies through mainstream media.

What does this new digital reality look like for the process of site selection? How are site selectors themselves doing things differently? Join us tomorrow for Part II of How COVID-19 Permanently Digitized Site Selection.

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Being aware – situationally aware

Our world has always been in a state of perpetual change. Now more than ever, it is perceived to be doing that at an ever-rapid pace.

Positive changes such as economic growth, and technology advancements to note a couple. Unfortunately, with the positive, comes the negative. A continuous cycle of persons who wish to do harm.

Safety and Security experts inform us that violent events will continue to happen. The violent extremist motivated and driven by an ideology, to the targeting of individuals, place of business, worship, acts of violence that permeate into every vertical, sector of business and government.

Active safety and security programs are continuous reviewed, modified to face existing and the new challenges of tomorrow.

To make your safety and security programs more effective, the program needs ambassadors, staff.

Ambassadors need to be aware. Situationally aware.

Situational awareness training provides your staff with valuable intelligence & time when facing safety and security situations of potential harm or danger.

Being situation aware is truly a change in mindset.

It is a way of thinking that will focus a person’s behaviour, their outlook, and their mental attitude. People that are aware are no longer vulnerable but capable.

Capable individuals are always prepared. Capable individuals are not complacent, they use technology to enhance their preparedness and response and their planning always includes a contingency plan.

Situationally aware staff improve the effectiveness of your safety and security program.

Situationally aware individuals enhance the workplace and enhance their personal safety and security.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance in Situation Awareness training, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Michael White Group International is Arcuri Group LLC approved Situation Awareness Specialist Certification Training provider.

 

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How to Find the Budget for a Municipal Project

Have you ever received an RFP that doesn’t have any budget listed?  It makes it hard to truly understand the scope of the work requested, doesn’t it?

Municipalities have their hearts in the right place, but often they throw more “wants” into an RFP than they have the budget for. When the bids come in way over their budget, they have to start the whole RFP process all over again – wasting everyone’s time.  

Worst yet, those who bid the first time may not bother to submit a bid the second time around and the municipality may receive fewer bids and ultimately higher pricing.

In defense of municipalities, however, I’ve been on both sides of the argument on whether or not to include the budget for a project in an RFP.

As a CAO, I didn’t want to put the budget number in the RFP either, because I was afraid bidders would simply submit bids right up to the budget number. This is still a common misconception.

But now, experience has taught me, when bidders know the budget number, the reality is they more often submit bids lower than the budget, to try to win the work.

From the Bidders’ perspective though, it’s incredibly frustrating not knowing the budget number because you can’t accurately price the work without understanding the municipality’s expectations.

So, to connect the dots, here’s a tip for Bidders to find the budget for a municipal project.

 

In most cases you can, through good sleuthing, find the budget a municipality has set aside for a specific project.

  • Provincial Announcements

Often when Provinces announce funding for municipalities, they will have a press release and a link to find out which municipality received what amount for specific project(s). That’s the easiest way to find the budget for a project.  

  • Agendas & Minutes

If the municipality received funding for the project, Council will most likely have recently passed a resolution to approve the project.  By searching the municipality’s Agendas/ Minutes section of their website, you can usually find the resolution about a month or so before the RFP was issued.

Personally, I start by looking at the Agendas and searching keywords, related to whatever the RFP has been issued for.  (i.e. Service Delivery Review, Parks & Rec Roof Repairs, etc.).  The Agenda will help you narrow down the minutes that contain the resolution Council passed – and the resolution will normally have the dollar amount approved for the project.  

  • Budget

If the municipality did not receive funding for the project, you may not find a resolution approving it. So, another way you can sometimes find the budget for a project is by finding the municipality’s annual budget on their website.  

This is a bit harder to do if you’re not familiar with how a municipal budget looks, but look at the proposed expenditures for the current year, in the appropriate department and you may see the project noted separately in the annual budget. 

For example, you would most likely find the budget for “Service Delivery Review” in the General Administration part of the budget, or “Roof Repairs” in the Parks & Recreation part of the budget, etc.  

You can also check out the Special Budget Meetings of Council (again in the Agendas/Minutes section of the municipality’s website), and you may see mention of the project and how much Council wants to budget for it. 

It takes time, and it’s not always easy, but in most cases, it is possible to find the budget the municipality has set aside for a project. 

Happy Sleuthing Sherlock! 

Got questions?

Contact Susan Shannon, Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca

855.477.5095 or [email protected]

 

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What type of testing is right for your website – Understanding the difference in website testing

In the last few weeks there has been a rise in reported malware and malicious attacks on small municipalities. Testing of three small municipality websites in recent weeks by our team has resulted in failures on all sites basic security parameters. We often hear small organizations saying they don’t need to worry about attacks, they aren’t “big enough” but anyone can be a target.

Regular testing your website for known vulnerabilities and emerging threats should become a part of your Cyber Security Road Map. The first step is identifying the type of web testing that is right for your infrastructure. Here are a few key questions to consider;

1) Where is your website hosted – do you host it yourself? Is it hosted by a third-party?
2) Who is responsible for the security of the host system, the operating system?
3) Do you have a web application firewall such as CloudFlare in front of your website?
4) Is your website a static page with content?
5) Do you have a login and if so what type of data is behind the login? Customer, pricing, private personal?
6) Do you have any API interactions with other applications?

When you start down the road of testing your website you want to consider the host operating system and the application. There are two key types of testing available, fully automated scanning and manual testing. Fully automated scanning is used for both host operating systems and web applications. The host operating system scan will scan for all currently known vulnerabilities affecting that operation system. It will report back on the CVE, the risk and usually suggested remediation tips. The same is true for the web application scanning. The fully automated web application scanner will scan your website at a minimum for the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities and report back on risks and remediation. https://owasp.org/www-project-top-ten/.

Manual testing means that you have an actual person who is using various methods to determine the security of a host or the application and If the rules of the engagement permit, they will attempt to exploit a vulnerability and gain access, modify content or download information. There are varying degrees of manual testing, the simplest is one tester and one day and the more extensive 2 testers and 5 days of testing.

The type of test that is required for your website really depends on two main factors –

 

1. Have the host and application ever been tested before?

2. What is the criticality of the data being processed or stored on this site?

 

For example, if you have a very static page of content that is hosted by a third party, chances are a good OWASP 10 scan of you site will be sufficient to let you know if you have any glaring misconfigurations that could lead to a website defacement or potential attack on your site. If your website has a login and you allow users to sign up for accounts and host dynamic content, you would want to make sure you consider a manual test at least for the first test. Once a thorough baseline has been established for the site, testing can become more routine and automated.

We recommend you develop a plan for testing and make sure to include the above considerations. There might be special notifications you have to give in writing to a third party before you test an application, you might have to have a testing IP whitelisted in a web application firewall, you may need special accounts set up in the application for testing.

If you are unsure what type of test is right for your website, reach out to us and we will be glad to discuss options with you.

http://www.mi613.ca

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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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The Management Trilogy

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, managers have been hard-pressed to pivot to a virtual style of leading their teams. Even where the work of their teams does not lend itself to ‘work at home’ strategies, nevertheless a greater reliance on the use of virtual tools has emerged. So how are you doing with that?

Managers have to provide leadership for their teams across three domains. We call this The Management Trilogy, consisting of three overlapping areas:

Daily Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team control and improve your mission-critical processes and cultivate your team values. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VALUES.

Crisis Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team plan for, deal with and manage the aftermath of disruptive and unexpected events. These events threaten to harm the organization, its staff, customers and stakeholders, and the communities it serves. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VALOR.

Strategic Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team plan for, move towards, and create your future. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VISION.

Of course, it’s rarely as simple as that. Whilst engaging in Daily Management, you can be hit with a crisis or indeed crises, such as Covid-19 and more. And at the same time, your team’s vision of a desirable future gets shelved until things ‘get back to normal’, whatever that is! And you have to manage all of this virtually!

It’s simple, but not easy. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these challenges:

TIP #!: Know yourself – in the intersection of these three domains, you will experience many different emotions. Managing your emotions will be key, as will leading with values. Knowing your personal and professional values will create a strong foundation for helping others understand their emotions and values.

Tip #2: Know your team members – Understanding what motivates your team members, and how they deal with the pressures and conflicts that arise between you, they and other team members will be crucial to maintaining a balanced and cohesive team.

Tip #3: Know your manager – Understanding your manager and their stressors will go a long way towards creating a strong working relationship between the two of you, which will stand you in good stead when you need your manager’s support.

If you would like to learn more about The Management Trilogy and the tools and techniques you can utilize virtually to achieve success, contact me at [email protected] or by calling 1-877-432-8182 (local in Edmonton 780-432-8182).

Brian Ward,

CEO, Affinity Consulting and Training

Edmonton

 

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Ontario State of Emergency Returns – What You Need to Know

Municipal Employer Update – State of Emergency Returns

Further to Premier Ford’s announcement January 12th, the Province is returning to a State of Emergency, effective Thursday, January 14th. Though public health measures and restrictions have been in place throughout the pandemic, Ontario has not been in a State of Emergency since July 24, 2020.

 

We note below only the changes that will come into place Thursday (all current Grey Zone lockdown measures remain in effect as now).  These measures will continue until at least February 11, 2021: 

  1. Employers must ensure that employees who can complete their work from home do so.  Employees are not to attend work unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace (for example manufacturers, retailers offering curbside pick-up etc.)
  2. For employees that must attend work, face masks are mandatory in all workplaces even in instances where physical distancing can be maintained.  Masks must be worn outdoors if the workplace does not allow for 2m (6’) of distancing.
  3. Outdoor gatherings are reduced from a maximum of 10 people to 5 people.
  4. Schools will remain closed until February 10 in Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York and Hamilton regions.
  5. Previously announced school re-openings remain as scheduled until further notice.
  6. Daycares remain open to non-school age children.
  7. Retailer and restaurants may provide services as they do now but may only remain open from 7am to 8pm (liquor, beer stores, 9am to 8pm).  Reduced capacity restrictions are being applied to big box stores.
  8. The 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. restriction does not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies and health care facilities.
  9. Car dealers may remain open by appointment only (as now) but only between 7am and 8pm.
  10. Non-essential construction is restricted, including below-grade construction, except for surveying.

Importantly, Ontario has not imposed a general curfew on citizens (as Quebec elected to do by forbidding citizens from being outside their home after 8pm without an essential reason).



As always, if you have questions or need assistance, please contact our offices anytime (while we are working virtually, emails and phones are being monitored at all times).  New developments are expected and we will continue to keep you updated.



SHRP LIMITED

925-550 Skyway Drive (Airport Road)

Peterborough,  Ontario  K9J 0E7

705-400-714 | [email protected]

www.savinohrp.ca | www.hrlive.ca

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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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Getting Ahead of COVID-19 with Data and Analytics – Are You Ready?

smiling woman working on her computer

Communities across Canada were excited to hear the news that shipments of vaccine arrived and front-line workers and seniors were first in line to receive the vaccinations that will eventually make its way across Canada to every citizen in a very large country. Logistical issues aside, the Canadian Armed Forces will ensure that delivery of this life saving miracle arrives safely in each community.

 

It will take months before everyone is vaccinated. Projections suggest it may take until September 2021 before the largest vaccination program in Canada’s history is complete. Each municipality has a responsibility to care for those most impacted during this time. Our immediate attention turns to the hospital and front-line workers as communities slide into the red zone with lockdowns and governments asking each hospital to have an additional 10-15% surge capacity on standby for the expected increase in Covid-19 cases arriving at emergency centers.

 

The impact of Covid-19 will extend beyond the visible health issues and arrive in your community with an increase in demand at the food bank. Hunger is the canary in the coal mine acting as a lead indicator of social health or social determinants of health (SDoH). Social health will play an active role in who shows up in the medical or justice system in the coming months. You only have to ask your local food bank if demand is increasing and they will describe not only demand but location and demographics of those in need. Families without a job, a place to call home, food, medical assistance, family support, domestic violence, increased substance use and a host of other issues all increase and play a significant role in how whole person care is applied.

 

When social services and medical services work independently, the cost per patient increases and the path to better outcomes extended. Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Honourable Bardish Chagger who is a science graduate and a believer in using outcomes to help improve programs, participated in our webinar last weekSee the link in this blog.  As discussed in the recent webinar, the federal government is looking for ways to help communities do more with less using an evidence based approach. Data science is one of the keys to delivering better outcomes for less.

 

Data and analytics will help communities across Canada better understand the problem and work together to discover the best approach using the resources at hand. 

 

Infrastructure Canada is offering communities $31 million over the next two years to develop innovative digital platforms that will help those most impacted by Covid-19. Over 200 communities attended last weeks webinar. That is 200 communities ready to create a proposal and submit for approval January 2021.

 

Each community has been somewhat sheltered from the next wave of Covid-19 economic, health and social collateral damage with generous but temporary federal assistance. The economy in many communities has shifted and in some cases permanently to a different business model. 

 

Not everyone will find it easy to pick up where they left off. As Canada begins to build back better, all 3200 communities should be thinking of how they use data to create proactive strategies and shield their constituents from the continuing Covid-19 collateral damage.

 

Let me know if you want to discuss your digital transformation as we build back better with funding using innovative digital solutions. Project submission starts January 2021.    

 

Contact Athena Software for more information!

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