Municipalities Promoting Positivity During the Pandemic

As Ontario prepares to enter the second Provincial Emergency amid stay-at-home orders, many folks could use some positivity. Here are some lighthearted and fun projects that municipalities across Canada are undertaking to bring a smile to peoples’ faces. 

City of Waterloo

 

The City of Waterloo, Ontario has launched The Community Happiness Project. The Community Happiness Project aims to connect community members by sharing messages of hope, positivity, welcoming, and connectivity from community members and hopefully you!

 

From January to mid-February, residents can submit audio messages and images through an online portal. These will be assembled into signage that will be posted throughout the city and can be accessed through QR codes on mobile devices. Audio messages collected from the community will reflect Waterloo’s caring spirit and can include stories, poems, and notes to combat the feelings of isolation that have grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Town of Blackfalds

The Town of Blackfalds, Alberta is continuing the Lunch Box Pandemic Response Program into 2021. The Blackfalds Food Bank has now settled into their new home in the old Community Services Department Shop, at 5014 Waghorn Street, there is plenty of room to accommodate donations to support the Blackfalds Food Bank needs and the Lunch Box program.

 

The Lunch Box Program started in March 2020 due to the pandemic and increased local families’ needs to provide food for their children. Initiated to provide school-aged children with healthy lunches and snacks for school, the program quickly changed when schools shut down and were then expanded to include any local family with children, of any age. This pandemic response program fed 3,877 children in 1,061 families from March through December of 2020. 

 

City of Barrie

 

The City of Barrie, Ontario is running a fun, new contest to name the snowplows. Barrie has 12 snowplows that need names and is asking residents to come up with some creative and unique ideas.

 

Between now and January 22, 2021, Barrie residents are invited to submit their idea for a snowplow name for your chance to win a City of Barrie prize pack. The winning names will also be featured on the City’s Plow Tracker app and will be added to the snowplow machines for the 2021-22 winter season.

 

We love seeing municipalities coming together to enrich the lives of their citizens! We also love connecting municipalities with the businesses that provide the municipal goods and services that they need. Learn more at www.muniSERV.ca and join today. 

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Code Enforcement with AccessE11

The mandate of municipal government is to provide access to civic amenities and to ensure that residents follow the local laws and ordinances adopted by City Council.

In general, there are operating processes in place to monitor and enforce these municipal codes. However, it is often the residents themselves that witness and report code violations, at which point the municipality’s responsibility is to initiate an investigation and resolve the situation. When this occurs, there are additional complexities involved, with many municipalities struggling to track and meet their service targets to address citizen-initiated complaints. Any departments responsible for code enforcement must triage citizen complaints across a diverse range of property maintenance, parking, noise, nuisance and other issues. Then, activities must be coordinated with officers in the field, all actions tracked, and any documents consolidated until compliance is reached.

Using the AccessE11 service request management platform, multiple municipalities have streamlined and automated their code enforcement approach, making it effortless for staff to capture citizen complaints, assign the right team, resolve the underlying issues, institute centralized tracking and record keeping, and easily report on issues individually or on an aggregated basis.

Capturing Code Issues

Increasingly, residents expect to be able to interact with their municipality in the same way they do private-sector organizations via multiple channels, and this applies equally to code enforcement.

In light of this, AccessE11 has created a platform that allows citizens to report their concerns online, by email, and using integrated mobile apps. Categorization of each violation by category (permit issue, graffiti, trash & debris, noise etc.) is completely flexible, and geolocation of the issue and inclusion of pictures/other details is simple.

Once reported, the software automatically creates a case to track the issue, acknowledges receipt to the citizen, sets follow-up and due dates, and routes the case to a specific staff member. Moreover, it immediately makes the information available in configurable dashboards, embedded maps and reports to provide a centralized, cohesive view of all past and ongoing code enforcement activities.

Processing Citizen Issues

Inspections are an integral part of the resolution process and, to that end, code enforcement officers are provided with an up to date and prioritized view of the complaints they need to follow-up with the AccessE11 mobile app for staff. Depending on whether or not a violation is observed, an officer on location can close the case immediately, or further document it with corrective actions and a date for a follow-up inspection if required.

Some municipalities also use code sweeps within delimited geographical areas as a proactive means of enhancing the safety, cleanliness and conditions of a neighbourhood. In this scenario, officers can create cases for tracking purposes directly using the mobile app. All relevant information is seamlessly and centrally logged with no need for the officer to visit the municipal office simply to enter data.

From the time an issue is reported through to closure, departmental managers, assigned staff and, to an appropriate extent, the reporting citizen are kept informed with automated, real-time notifications. Code enforcement teams are able to work seamlessly and avoid crossed wires. The reporting citizen can also get updates on their concern at any time by visiting AccessE11’s citizen-facing portal.

Operational Effectiveness

Citizens demand services from municipalities, but they also expect them to use tax dollars wisely. Authorities have a duty to avoid waste wherever possible and act in the public interest.

To that end, they need systems that allow them to make informed decisions and measure the success of their activities. AccessE11’s platform allows code enforcement departments to visualize and report on valuable data, letting them make evidence-based decisions. Managers can prioritize tasks, collect data on current and historic trends, measure against service targets, and gauge the effectiveness of the municipality’s response to issues. This data-driven approach enables managers to get a better handle on the overall efficacy of their teams, as well as the productivity of individual members.

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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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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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An Artist’s Eye to Risk & Security Program Success

 

 

Michelangelo famously created the sculpture David and JK Rowling famously revealed characters that already existed. Two completely different types of artists and art.

But how did Michelangelo actually approach this masterpiece? Did he take a stone and begin to carve, and David was eventually the result, or did he know that David was already in the stone and he had to carve away the waste to reveal him? JK Rowling did the latter.

Which approach applies to your organization?

Do you work to reveal the security practices that are already intuitively imbedded by hard working staff doing the right thing and expand on these, or realize that you need to start fresh and create something new?

Let us take a look. Your organization is well established. Many operational and strategic programs and processes are in place. But your now are faced with ramping up your security program. Create policies, procedures, establish the

With both approaches your personnel, all personnel, security or otherwise play the most significant part in the immediate and continued success of your Risk & Security program.

At a high level view, your Risk & Security program has 3 major components;

  1. Plans/Procedures: you need purpose, direction, and accountability
  2. Hard/Soft tools: software, hardware, technical systems…such as cameras, card access, etc.
  3. And the third piece that actually holds it all together and makes it work, people (personnel).

Of course, while the various plans/procedure, technical systems and devices assist in the assurance of security – it all ultimately boils down to personnel.

But they don’t just get there on their own.

There needs to be a commitment within your program to educate, cooperate, and involve personnel to be successful.

Not sure where to begin? We can help.

It all starts with a conversation.

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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Check please!

Is your security risk management, business continuity and any other resilience program you have simply to prove you have one? Check the box, so to speak? It’s perhaps stable, reliable, unchanging?

Then you have a problem. You’re doing it wrong.

You’re doing it wrong.

You’re programs should be designed to generate improvements. There should be a built-in restart, of the assessment process. The cycle should ensure improvements re-align to the overall business objectives. Your improvements should replace those areas of the program that don’t work, are unnecessary, and need revitalization.

We can help. We can help get your program from simply sustaining itself to regenerating, restarting, re-aligning, replacing, and revitalizing itself so that it works when needed; so that it works for you. We can help get your program working for you.

It starts with a conversation.

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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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 simplified 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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