Canadian Government Entities Under Scrutiny for Lax Cybersecurity

Canada’s government sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny for both lagging privacy and security both in legislation and in practice

 

In a sign of the times, figures released in February to the House of Commons reveal that the personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians was mishandled by Federal department and agencies, including the Security Intelligence Service and Department of National Defense.  The breaches were widespread, impacting over 10 separate departments and agencies, with evidence indicating that these figures are being underreported due to inadequate reporting requirements.  The Canada Revenue Agency led the pack with 3,020 identified breaches over the last two years impacting at least 59,065 Canadians. 

 

Helical’s offerings meet the “Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations” published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and can be scaled up according to need.  You can learn more about how we meet these requirements here or for more information about Helical, visit our website.  

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SDS Breakdown: What, When, Why & How?

What is an SDS?

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheet (previously called MSDS • Material Safety Data Sheet)

When do you need an SDS?

Safety Data Sheets are created for any product that is “classified as a “hazardous product” under WHMIS that is intended for use, handling or storage in a workplace in Canada.”

Hazardous product means any product, mixture, material or substance that is classified in accordance with the regulations made under subsection 15(1) in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in Schedule 2 Source

Safety Data Sheets are to be provided by the manufacturer or supplier. They can be a hard copy given in-person or mailed, or a digital copy on a USB, a disc or sent via email.  It is required that workplaces in Canada maintain an SDS library, whether hard copy or digital, and that it be readily available to all employees.

Metal worker wearing PPE at work with fumes surrounding him

What is on an SDS?

A Safety Data Sheet is separated into 16 sections, below is a brief outline of what information goes into each section.

SECTION 1 – Identification

SECTION 2 – Hazard Identification

SECTION 3 – Composition/Ingredients

SECTION 4 – First Aid Measures

SECTION 5 – Fire-fighting Measures

SECTION 6 – Accidental Release Measures

SECTION 7 – Handling and Storage

SECTION 8 – Exposure Controls / PPE

SECTION 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties

SECTION 10 – Stability and Reactivity

SECTION 11 – Toxicological Info.

SECTION 12 – Ecological Info.

SECTION 13 – Disposal Considerations

SECTION 14 – Transportation Info.

SECTION 15 – Regulatory Info.

SECTION 16 – Other Info. (Dates, etc.)

How can you manage your SDS library?

Depending on the number of hazardous materials in your workplace, maintaining your SDS library can often end up being a full-time job! Because Safety Data Sheets are not always provided as easily or up-to-date as they are required, locating the correct copy often takes research, correspondence with the manufacturer and more.

Why do you need help managing your Safety Data Sheets?

Instead of taking up the time of a valuable employee in your company, hiring professionals for your SDS Management is the best way to go. We hire a lawyer to assist with our legal matters, and a plumber to assist with our plumbing, so why not leave this to the professionals as well. Managing your Safety Data Sheets is a matter of not only compliance with legal requirements, but they also provide the needed information to keep your workplace as safe as possible.

MySDS.ca can build and maintain your SDS library which can give you peace of mind, save you money and keep you compliant!

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Case Study – 44HA Drone Topo Survey for E.R. Garden O.L.S.

Scope of work:
44 Hectares, Orthographic Image 3cm, 3m DTM, 1m Contours

Purpose:
To identify drainage and topography for a new development site in Markham.

Conditions and Requirements:

Overgrown farm lands had been neglected for several years, creating a very rugged, muddy landscape. Normal survey methods by foot or ATV would have been extremely cumbersome and slow going.
Accuracy requirements were +/-10cm on bare earth and +/-30cm in wooded and wetland areas. (excluding bodies of water)

Methodology and Timeline:

2 Aerial surveyors were deployed with an eBee+ RTK and Propeller Aero point.
Crew laid the Aero point as an independent base to ensure proper calibration between E.R. Gardens Data and Canadian UAV Solutions RTK eBee data

7 Aerial Ground Control shots were used in the model..

Processing took a GIS Photogrammetrist 3 days to build, edit and QA/QC the 3D model.

The Completed Drone Survey was delivered in approximately 4 business days.

Summary:

Canadian UAV Solutions was able to provide accurate data in a timely manner where it would have been extremely time consuming using traditional methods.
By adding a few extra aerial points within the workflow of the boundary survey, significant time was saved and resulted in considerable savings for the OLS.
The number of crew required was significantly less, and the amount of time on site was reduced from approximately a week to a single day.
QA/QC reports a RMSE on check points found on bare earth and wooded areas no greater than 3cm on the Z and 1.5cm on the XY, well within specified accuracy requirements.

Testimonial
“I had heard several horror stories regarding drones over the last few years, and up until recently had decided to stay away until the hype had died down.
I had done my research, and although we could have started our own drone program, it became increasingly obvious that it was a lot more complex the further we investigated it.
Many people were doing it, but were either struggling or getting bad results.
After several in-depth conversations with Canadian UAV Solutions, I was assured they knew my requirements and would be able to achieve them.

We developed a workflow which fit well into our operations, and has allowed us to utilize drone data in scenarios where it performs beautifully.

Their Drone survey ties right into our calibration points, and we have done our own QA/QC to confirm the legitimacy of the info.

In areas where we are looking for drainage information, we could not do it faster or for less.

The value added from the aerial photo alone speaks volumes. By adding the image to the topo, we are able to answer questions without sending anyone back to the field.

Bottomline is, we are able to take on more projects as it is increasing the efficiency of my crew. We intend to continue to work together with Canadian UAV Solutions on future projects.”

Edward R. Garden O.L.S.

E.R. Garden Limited, Ontario Land Surveyor

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IT Projects & Black Swans

Have you ever been involved in an IT project that was difficult and resulted in a less than optimal outcome? I still joke about being a survivor of a large-scale IT implementation project. That was more than ten years ago and the memories are still fresh and painful. That is not to say that all IT projects end in disaster and I have seen a number of IT projects succeed in my career. Still the stigma remains and there is ample anecdotal evidence in the workplace that IT projects are particularly prone to failure.

Does this belief hold up under more rigorous scrutiny? According to Oxford University professor Bent Flyvbjerg, who has spent his career studying this subject, IT projects are actually not the worse type of project. He found that globally, across all industries, the percentage of projects that come in over-budget are:

Ø  50% of IT projects

Ø  60% of Energy projects

Ø  70% of Dam projects

Ø  90% of Olympic Games[1]

So only half of all IT projects come in over-budget. That somewhat mixed news for IT projects is tempered, however, by the obvious fact that IT projects are much more prevalent. IT projects are happening every day in organizations all over the world while large energy projects, dams and Olympic games are much fewer in number and less frequent.

In another study, Flyvbjerg and his colleague Alexander Budzier, focused solely on a sample of almost 1,500 IT projects.[2] The projects in the study included enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, document management, and other management information systems. Many of the projects looked at were in the US public sector but surprisingly the results showed little difference when compared to projects in the private sector or other locations around the world.

Here is what they found:

Average IT project cost overrun is 27%

While that average might not seem alarming what they were startled to find, and what that average was hiding, was this reality:   

1 out of 6 IT projects had cost overruns of 200%

1 out of 6 IT projects had a schedule overrun of 70%

That means nearly 17% of all IT Projects are nightmare projects or what they call “black swans”.[3] Using a term popularized by best-selling author Nassim Taleb, black swans are “high-impact events that are rare and unpredictable but in retrospect seem not so improbable”.

There are many reasons for this high rate of IT project black swans but Flyvbjerg and Budzier point out a common finding was that sales and product development engineers and managers often have less than adequate skills in implementing the technology itself.  

The end result of these IT black swans is usually the same: increased financial pressure, reputational damage, and often loss of jobs, particularly those deemed responsible for the project. If a private sector organization is already weak before the black swan, the black swan IT project can often be fatal to its very survival. In the public sector, the organization survives but the public is left to pay for the mistakes through additional tax burden.       

To avoid becoming the next IT black swan case study, Flyvbjerg and Budzier say that we should always assess our organizational readiness through a 2-part stress test before beginning our next large IT project:

1.       Can the organization afford the cost if our largest IT project goes over-budget by 400% or more and if only half the benefits are realized?

2.       Can the organization absorb the impact of having 17% of all our medium sized IT projects coming in over-budget by 200% and missing the project deadline by 70%?   

These scenarios seem far-fetched when viewed at the outset of the latest IT project but the records show they happen all too often and no organization or industry is immune.  

As I said at the outset, many IT projects do succeed coming in on-budget and on schedule. According to Flyvbjerg and Budzier, the IT projects that are successful all share these common 7 key characteristics:

1.       Stick to the schedule

2.       Avoid scope creep

3.       Break the project down into manageable pieces

4.       Have the right people

5.       Minimize turnover of team members

6.       Align with business needs

7.       Focus on single objective and measure all activity against that target

  

  


[3] Nassim Taleb, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”, Random House, 2007

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Using Technology to Expand Municipal Capacity

Transparency in politics has become a hot-button topic, especially over the last five years. Government mistrust is at a peak and people are demanding answers and access to information. Voters calling for transparency was witnessed in this past Federal election of a minority government. Federal and Provincial politics are having an influence on how municipalities operate. Most municipalities are the principle point of contact for the average citizen which forces them to adapt faster than what’s been happening at the provincial or national level.

The Government of Canada is committed to being an open government, which they believe can be achieved through three streams: open data, open information, and open dialogue. The goals being to empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen technology, which helps overall governance. Providing citizens with these three streams will allow government to create trust and accountability. Once data is openly available, citizens will be informed and educated. With the rise and access of new technologies, governments can combat these problems and secure public confidence. It’s the governments responsibility to enable technology to combat these concerns.

At the local level, many municipalities are adhering to these three streams far better than their national counterparts. They are posting their bylaws, procedures, meeting minutes and agendas online, so their constituents are informed and up to date. In fact, some municipalities are going as far as taping council meetings so there’s full disclosure and little room for mistrust.

To read the full BLOG click here!

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For Immediate Release – Announcing Exciting New Partnership

September 5th, 2019

           

 

muniSERV and ASI Technologies Announce Exciting New Partnership 

muniSERV.ca and ASI Technologies have joined forces to bring even more value to our respective customers and members to bring enhanced membership value to clients of both organizations!

Both companies offer well-known, powerful online platforms that focus on the municipal marketplace throughout Canada.  This unique alliance will provide additional reach to hundreds more municipalities through our numerous partnerships with municipal associations and organizations across Canada.

By working together muniSERV and ASI Technologies are able to provide incredible savings to our professional members to boost their exposure with both joint advertising opportunities and joint memberships, including The Road Authority™ (TRA), which is delivered in partnership with the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA).

See the Press Release – TRA and MuniSERV announce partnership to learn more details on joint advertising and membership opportunities.

Susan Shannon, Founder & Principal, muniSERV & muniJOBS – [email protected]

Steven Desrocher, President, ASI Technologies Inc. (The Road Authority) – [email protected]

 

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What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

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5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

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Thinking about thinking….

Daily we are required to make decisions, recall facts, and balance risks, whether at work or at home.

All of this requires considerable thinking yet we don’t really pay much attention to how we do that. Is it because its so easy or because it is so hard????

Let’s explore….

If we were to ask a friend or colleague “What is capital of France?” most will quickly come up with the right answer. Paris, of course. Easy question and not a lot of effort goes into finding the answer. The same goes if I were to ask you to spot the pattern in this series of numbers 122333….?? Yes, you got it. 4444.

But what if you were asked to come up with the answer to 15 x 24 without using your phone/calculator? If you are like most people, this question requires you to pause and think hard. If you were good at math in school you might be able to recall a shortcut or you just might have to get out pen/paper and figure it out the old-fashioned way. Unless you are a math superstar, it will be difficult to come up with the answer quickly but, given time, we can all do it.  The answer btw is 360.

If you consider yourself in the top 1% in terms of math abilities and are still feeling comfortable, here is my favourite math challenge of all time:

·       A bat and ball cost $1.10 to purchase

·       The bat costs one dollar more than the ball,

·       How much does the ball cost?

Allow me to keep you in suspense as you mull that one over. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

What these mind exercises illustrate is something that Daniel Kahneman refers to as “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, which happens to be the name of his best-selling book from 2011. Kahneman, who is now in his mid-80’s, is acknowledged to be the father of the field of behavioural economics. As a trained psychologist, and proudly not an economist, he has always been considered an iconoclast in his field of study. Along with his now deceased partner, Amos Tversky, he has spent a lifetime studying and gaining insight into how the human mind behaves.

As a result of their ground-breaking studies, Kahneman and Tversky came to realize that there are actually two systems at play in our brains which affect our reasoning, judgement and decision making:        

·       System 1 operates automatically in the background at all times. It is quick and intuitive requiring little or no effort to come up with an answer. System 1 allows us to answer “Paris” to the question about the capital of France. When we use this system to think we are looking for patterns and meaning from the information at hand. Consequently, it is prone to mistakes. We can easily make judgment errors and fall victim to bias and are generally unaware of these errors when they happen.

·       System 2 kicks in when System 1 can’t provide the answer, like in the example of 15 x 24. This type of thinking is necessarily slow and deliberative. It requires great effort and we have to pay careful attention. It works best when it tests and checks results from System 1. It too can be prone to errors if we become distracted and lose our focus on the task at hand.

As someone who has spent their career helping colleagues make important procurement decisions there is much we can learn from Kahneman and the study of the human mind.  How often have we seen rushed evaluations and distracted evaluators lead to the wrong contractor being selected and poor project outcomes?

That is not to say that evaluations need to be dragged out unnecessarily. The use of enabling technology and more effective evaluation methods can make a huge impact and result in better overall outcomes, while still being completed in a timely manner. I advocate for drafting more effective and efficient evaluation schemes. On your next RFP, consider asking suppliers to respond in a structured manner to avoid having evaluators engage in an endless cycle of page flipping as they seek to find the pertinent information.  Try using enhanced consensus scoring where you focus only on the differences in scoring that exceed a pre-determined variance. We often spend too much time debating the merits of a 6 vs 7 and too little time trying to reconcile significant differences of opinion. Finally, spend the time to adequately prepare and train evaluators, even those who have previous experience. Awareness of how the mind operates and the pitfalls to avoid can go a long way towards a better outcome.    

In closing, here are my top advice tips to evaluators:

·       Be prepared to invest the time necessary to the task

·       Don’t rely on your fellow evaluators to bail you out

·       Slow down your thinking and avoid the rush to judgment

·       Pay attention to the details

·       Use critical thinking

·       Be respectful of other viewpoints during consensus meetings

·       Be aware of your biases – everyone has them

 

·       When relying solely on intuition, pause and use slow thinking to check/recheck the result

The ball costs $0.05

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com/

 

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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