In the News Archive
December 2005

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News summaries on public sector procurement across Canada

Procurement professionals define ethical procurement

In October 2005 the Canadian Public Procurement Council (CPPC) held its 7th annual forum in Toronto. Delegates came from various organizations at every level of the public sector: federal, crown corporations, provincial, municipal, academic and health. As always, these professionals were eager to share their expertise with each other through the presentations and networking opportunities provided. And there was much to share, from the development of training programs, cooperative purchasing initiatives, management initiatives and last but not least the development of a framework for ethical procurement.

Framework for Ethical Procurement

A panel consisting of George Butts, director general, Other Commodities and Acquisitions Branch, PWGSC, David Ash, director of procurement, Government of Manitoba, and Tami Reynolds, manager policy and planning, Procurement Services, Manitoba went through the process followed to develop the framework, and solicited further input from the audience on several fronts, including possibly adjusting the language of the “Broad Statement and Values” so that it clearly represents all public procurement, whatever the organization type. An inter-governmental working committee – all directors of operations from federal, provincial and territorial governments – worked diligently over four months to develop the statement of ethical values. This group recognized that an agreed upon framework for ethical procurement would provide two major benefits for procurement professionals and organizations: a sense of national cohesion and an umbrella under which to discuss related issues. Currently there is no common mechanism for the public sector as a whole to bring common issues to the table for discussion. A framework to discuss cross-jurisdictional issues and codify what was actually happening in daily work could be invaluable.

In developing the framework, the working group also identified additional areas of interest for future consideration. The top ten areas of interest included: green procurement, bid evaluation, vendor performance measurement, vendor complaint process, “no sweat” policy and practice, due process, alternative procurement processes, conflict of interest, gifts and gratuities, and information sharing.

Some key steps to developing the framework included: defining ethical procurement and procurement process and values; gathering input on ethical values and statements; establishing a subset of values; and developing a broad statement based on core values.

Broad Statement & Values (as presented at Forum 2005)

  • As members of the federal, provincial and territorial procurement community, we serve the Canadian public by acquiring goods, services and construction to support the delivery of government programs and services;
  • In performing these activities, we must adhere to the laws, regulations and policies of our various jurisdictions;
  • We aspire to uphold all public service values and particularly the procurement values;
  • The values that we engage most frequently in our relationship with the Canadian public, political officials, suppliers and clients and each other include: responsible government, collaboration, integrity, impartiality, due process, efficiency, excellence, effectiveness, discretion, public interest and accountability.

A description of what each of the values means was also provided. This statement was felt to be relevant to every person involved in procurement, from clerk to minister. The presentations made at Forum 2005 are available on the CPPC website (www.ccmp-cppc.qc.ca) to non-members of the CPPC, until January 15, 2006, when they will be available to members only.

The framework has been presented to senior management of the respective working group members for consideration. I believe more work will be done in this area and in others, such as governance. Given the participation of the group members and the interests and participation by the audience for this presentation, there appears to be an appetite for more. –by Anne Phillips

Nova Scotia supports municipal emergency preparedness

In the second and final phase of its Generator Program, Nova Scotia will share up to 50 percent of the cost, to a maximum of $3,600, to help provincial municipal emergency measures coordinators purchase generators for buildings – such as schools, community centres or fire halls – that would be used for shelter during an emergency. These generators will provide back-up power when it is most needed.

Government of Canada pension modernization project goes to EDS Canada

A $3,937,600 competitive contract has been awarded to EDS Canada Inc to modernize existing processes and systems that will ensure the sustainability of Public Works and Government Services Canada’s (PWGSC) pension administration and to improve services to federal government employees and pensioners. The work will provide technical solutions to replace existing systems that are more than 30 years old. The technology will include customer relationship management software and imaging technology, a revamped call centre, and will pave the way for the introduction of new Internet based self-service options for clients.

Partnering to protect Alberta boreal forests

In late November a partnership was launched to protect more of Alberta’s northern forests. The Boreal Habitat Conservation Initiative is a three-year commitment by Suncor Energy Foundation, the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and the Alberta government. Suncor Energy Foundation’s $1 million contribution will help the ACA, guided by an advisory group of Suncor and ACA employees, identify and acquire ecologically significant parcels of boreal habitat in Alberta for conservation. Where practical, purchased lands will be incorporated into existing parks as part of the long-term management of these areas. Suncor, whose operations include an oil sands operation, natural gas and conventional oil developments and a wind power project, already spends a significant amount each year on land reclamation and technology to mitigate land disturbance. The Suncor Energy Foundation is a private, non-profit charitable foundation established to manage and administer Suncor’s community contributions through donations to Canadian charitable organizations.

Ontario buys more power

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is buying more power. According to a news release in late October, this procurement is the first phase of a province-wide 250 MW demand side management and/or demand response initiative that will be rolled out in early 2006. For more information see www.ontarioelectricityrfp.ca or contact Tim Taylor at the OPA: (416) 969-6353 or tim.taylor@powerauthority.on.ca.

OPA will release, a draft Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to procure 1,000 MW of new electricity supply in the western Greater Toronto Area, to come into service as soon as possible, preferably before the summer of 2009. OPA expects to complete the contracting process by the spring of 2006. It also released a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) to procure 20 MW of demand response programs in the northern part of York Region. Another RFP for up to 1,000 MW of high efficiency combined heat and power projects (co-generation) will be released this winter.

New water system for New Brunswick’s Village of Claire

The Canada-New Brunswick Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (CNBMRIF) has invested in a $2,800,000 project to improve the water system of the Village of Claire, including a pumping system with chlorination and nearly 6 kilometres of water main with pressure and control chambers on the distribution system.

The CNBMRIF will invest $99 million in New Brunswick communities over five years – the investment to be shared equally among the federal, provincial and local governments whose projects are approved for support. Five projects have been announced in New Brunswick – total funding to date is $19.7 million. At least 80 percent of CNBMRIF funding will support “green” projects – those that lead to cleaner air and water, upgraded buildings to reduce energy needs, improvements to public transit systems to cut greenhouse gas emissions – and also support faster Internet connections as well as cultural, recreational and tourism projects.

Local Yukon firms contracted on Athlete’s Village project

Two Whitehorse-based firms were awarded contracts for the Athletes Village project currently under construction at Yukon College. Two permanent residential buildings will house 1,800 athletes per week during the two-week period of the 2007 Canada Winter Games. Once the Games are over, one building will be used as a student family residence and the second will be administered by the Yukon Housing Corp.

The contracting process for the project was structured to optimize opportunities for local companies. Keith’s Plumbing and Heating Co. Ltd. was awarded the mechanical heating and airflow systems contract, valued at approximately $4.4 million, and Dynamic Systems won the electrical systems contract bidding at $2,038,777.

BC takes aim at invasive plants

In late October 2005, British Columbia launched the Invasive Alien Plants Program, Canada’s first Web-based tool in the battle against invasive alien plants, which, if left unchecked, can cause crop and livestock losses affecting BC’s timber and ranching industries, destroy wildlife habitat, crowd out endangered plant species and lower property values. The data entry system and mapping tool (www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/invasive) allows people working in government, industry and local weed committees to quickly and efficiently share information about where invasive plants are located, and what weed control treatments have been used. The shared data will help prioritize work, prevent duplication and measure progress. The application is also accessible to the general public who may use it to produce maps showing the location of various weed species found in BC.

Alberta seeks alternative ways to fund health services

Following a competitive process, in the fall of 2005, Alberta Health and Wellness awarded Aon Consulting Inc. a contract (valued up to $1.5 million) to review Alberta’s health care system and propose alternative ways to fund health services. Aon Consulting Inc. provides consultation services on human resource and risk management issues, and specialty insurance underwriting. Under the contract, the company will examine options for health care insurance in the areas of prescription drugs, continuing care, supplemental health products and services, and non-emergency health care. A final report will be submitted in spring 2006. (The RFP that Aon responded to is available at www.health.gov.ab.ca.)

VIA Rail contracts for Wi-Fi service on its trains

Responding to customer requests, in late November, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announced a five-year partnership agreement with Parsons Corporation to offer Wi-Fi service to all VIA 1 and Comfort Class customers by November 2006. VIA 1 rail cars will offer the service by April 2006. Parsons (www.parsons.com), which has an office in Toronto, is one of the largest 100 percent employee-owned engineering and construction companies in the United States, with revenues exceeding $2.9 billion in 2004.

Parsons will provide wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) services, trademarked as Opti-Fi, in 22 VIA rail stations and all seven first-class (Panorama) lounges and on VIA train routes throughout the Quebec City-Windsor, Ontario corridor. Parsons has already implemented the Wi-Fi service in two stations, five trains, and four Panorama lounges. The company will fund, develop and operate the system and, once the system becomes profitable, will share the revenues with VIA Rail. Parsons will use PointShot’s RailPoint™ family of products as part of the wireless system. Company literature describes RailPoint as a “complete system for bridging 802.11 networks to next generation wireless, cellular and satellite networks, enabling the delivery of a host of passenger and rail operator applications.” PointShot (www.pointshotwireless.com) is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.

Manitoba acts to develop biodiesel

Biodiesel, along with new-generation hydroelectric power, geothermal, wind and ethanol, has become one of the pillars of Manitoba’s clean-energy strategy. Acting on recommendations made by the Biodiesel Advisory Council, Manitoba will promote the development of biodiesel as a new economic opportunity for Manitoba producers and rural communities and a clean-energy alternative to fossil fuels.

According to the news release “effective immediately, the province will no longer collect the 11.5 cents per litre fuel tax on 100 percent pure biodiesel. This will offer a Manitoba biodiesel tax advantage over regular diesel of approximately 5.5 cents per litre after provincial sales tax has been applied. The provincial tax incentive will be reviewed after four years. And, the province and Natural Resources Canada will also work together to provide a $1.5-million request for proposals (RFP) support package to Manitoba biodiesel producers who wish to either increase production of biodiesel or to start a new venture.”

Manitoba will also:

  • “appoint an independent biodiesel board to review the RFP submissions of interested developers;
  • establish a Manitoba-based biodiesel fuel quality testing centre;
  • develop a preference policy for Manitoba Transportation and Government Services for use of biodiesel in its fleet vehicles;
  • conduct research on feedstocks and alternative markets for biodiesel co-products;
  • study the feasibility of using specified risk materials (SRMs) for biodiesel (SRMs are those components of livestock remains that are restricted due to BSE);
  • work with private-sector fleet managers to encourage the use of biodiesel;
  • conduct a long-haul demonstration to demonstrate the benefits of biodiesel; and,
  • open a biodiesel office to coordinate the roll out of the strategy.”

Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro to develop wind power

In late November 2005, the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro released an invitation for expressions of interest (EOI) from proponents that have potential wind-power projects of more than 10 megawatts (MW) and up to 1,000 MW. The EOI response deadline is Jan. 20, 2006.

The EOI is the first step in the formal process that will result in additional renewable energy generation – 1,000 megawatts of wind power over the next 10 years – and billions of dollars in capital investment, operating expenditures, and energy sales, as well as millions in wind-rights payments and provincial and municipal taxes. It is also anticipated that an additional 50 MW will be set aside for the development of smaller, community-based projects.

The EOI process will provide information vital to future development steps such as timing and location of potential projects, capabilities of proponents, levels of community involvement and wind turbine manufacturing opportunities. There is considerable interest in the development of wind power in Manitoba, however, the financial, economic and technical feasibility of projects will determine success.

Canadian company, Netistix, chosen to display fleet product at UN’s Climate Change Conference and Showcase

The federal government chose Netistix Technologies, a Canadian company, to display FleetPulse, their wireless fleet vehicle telematics technology, at the 11th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (www.montreal2005.gc.ca) held in Montreal, November 28th to December 9th, 2005. Netistix was also recently appointed lead company of a consortium that has received funding from Sustainable Development Technologies Canada to develop a consumer version of the FleetPulse product.

Used in several government and commercial fleets in Canada, the Netistix on board technology device collects data, including idling time, providing managers the information needed to reduce the overall cost of fleet operations, particularly reducing idling times. This in turn means less GHG emissions and less negative impact on the environment. You can obtain more information by contacting Shaun Markey at shaunmarkey@rogers.com or 613-728-9951.

Looking for brownfield remediation proposals

Mid-October 2005 saw the launch of the first Green Municipal Fund (GMF) Brownfield Request for Proposals (RFP). Community brownfields, if left unmanaged, represent a significant loss of economic opportunity, can harm a neighbourhood’s image and quality of life, and may pose risks to human health and the environment. In the new GMF brownfield remediation funding opportunity, up to $20 million in low-interest loans is being offered to communities across the country – no matter their size or location. The call for proposals closed November 28, 2005. For more information on the GMF, including details of other approved projects and studies, visit FCM’s Knowledge Network at http://kn.fcm.ca or contact Doug Salloum, manager, Project Development and Portfolio Risk, FCM at (613) 241-5221 ext 372 or dsalloum@fcm.ca.

US Department of State chooses Canadian company solution to secure information

WinMagic® Inc. (www.winmagic.com), a Canadian company based in Mississauga, Ontario, develops disk encryption software (SecureDoc®) that ensures the protection of sensitive information stored on computers. It employs authentication from password to hardware token, biometrics and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), beginning at pre-boot time. In mid November 2005 the company announced that it, along with Entrust®, Precise Biometrics™, SafeNet®, and VMware®, will work with the US Department of State on a pilot project that will result in the department becoming compliant with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12). HSPD-12 requires all federal government employees and contractors (including contractor employees) to utilize smart card technology, containing their “digital identity” in the form of a PKI certificate, in order to gain physical access to federally controlled facilities and logical access to federally controlled information systems. The pilot project will focus on the integration of a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card and biometrics with PKI and disk encryption.

Saskatoon seniors complex environmentally friendly and cost saving

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan will be home to a new 45-unit seniors’ housing complex featuring an innovative geothermal heating and cooling system, which will help reduce greenhouse gases and energy costs. It is expected to save approximately $100,000 a year in utility and operational costs. The seniors’ complex, part of the province’s HomeFirst strategy to make affordable housing options available in Saskatchewan, is an addition to Bethany Manor, operated by Saskatoon Mennonite Care Services Inc. The new complex will provide additional living space of approximately 27,600 square feet and will offer residents access to on-site support and services.

The project is being funded by the Centenary Affordable Housing Program (CAHP), which is providing $1.9 million, with the balance consisting of land, equity, in-kind contributions, equity from occupants and mortgage financing. CAHP is an intergovernmental initiative to increase the supply of affordable off-reserve housing in Saskatchewan, funded by the federal government through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC); Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, an agency of Community Resources and Employment; and local municipalities. The housing may be new construction, conversion of non-residential buildings, or the acquisition and renovation of existing rental housing at risk of being lost from the market. Contributors to CAHP (www.dcre.gov.sk.ca/housing/programs/p-CAHP.html) funding for this project include CMHC ($947,650), Saskatchewan Housing Corporation ($758,120) and the City of Saskatoon ($189,530). For more information contact Jamie Shanks, Community Resources and Employment, at (306) 787-4011.

Calgary Library picks wireless communication to manage growth and reduce costs

Calgary Public Library, Canada’s second largest public library system, with over 31 million customer interactions per year, recently moved to a wireless integrated voice, video and data network to link its 18 library locations across the city. Growing apace with the city of Calgary, the library needed to replace a cumbersome legacy phone system with a communications system that would help them control costs, provide the best service possible and allow for changes in the future. Something as simple as the ability to transfer a call to another location would really improve customer service.

The choice was a Cisco Systems® network, installed by NexInnovations (www.nexinnovations.com), a Cisco Gold Certified Partner that provides technology consulting, infrastructure, deployment and support expertise to organizations across Canada. The end-to-end network supports 350 Cisco IP phones, 20 wireless Cisco IP phones, 350 Cisco Unity* voicemail seats and Cisco IP Interactive Voice Response (IP IVR). It also allows the library to connect to Alberta SuperNet – a broadband network connecting facilities in 429 communities across the province. The network enables call transfer, online directories, 4-digit dialing, and increased productivity from staff that can take a wireless phone with them while performing other duties. It also makes the library more efficient by eliminating redundant infrastructure, centralizing administration and simplifying maintenance. The new system also integrates with the integrated library inventory tracking and customer database system, Dynix Horizon. According to Wendy Lucas, senior VP, Sales and Integrated Solutions at NexInnovations, “this will help enable the library to develop an innovative self-service application that will be available from the browser of the Cisco IP phones.” For more information about Cisco IP Communications, see www.cisco.com/go/ipc.

Northwest Territories invests in intelligent transportation systems

Intelligent transportation systems consist of a broad range of technologies designed to make transportation safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly. On November 10, 2005 the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories signed two contribution agreements to develop and deploy intelligent transportation systems in the Northwest Territories. Combined funding, which will be shared between the governments on an equal basis, totals $700,000.

The first agreement is for intelligent transportation systems research and development projects; each government will contribute up to $250,000. One of the projects is to develop and design an electronic tolling system at the Deh Cho Bridge located over the Mackenzie River, near Fort Providence. The remaining funds will be used to design and develop a new website for the Department of Transportation that incorporates intelligent transportation systems such as interactive traveller information.

Under the second agreement each government will contribute up to $100,000 to deploy intelligent transportation systems in the territory. One project will see an automated traveller information system and baggage information display signs deployed at Yellowknife Airport at a total cost of $115,428. The system will provide automated real-time flight information within the terminal building and over the Internet. The remaining joint funding will be applied towards similar intelligent transportation systems in the territory. For more information contact Irene Marcheterre, director of Communications, Ministry of Transport, at (613) 991-0700.

Winnipeg outsources garbage collection

In mid-October 2005 Winnipeg city councillors decided to contract out garbage collection in the south end of Winnipeg and AutoBin collection through the entire city for an anticipated savings of $2.7 million. This reduces the cost of collection by $34.57 per household each year in the areas served by these contracts – almost half the cost of past practice where city staff and equipment were responsible for garbage collection. Service levels are expected to remain at the level residents are accustomed to. The transition to the successful bidder, BFI Canada, should be completed by March 2006.

New Brunswick to develop public warning system

At no cost to the province, New Brunswick joins Pelmorex Communications Inc. and Communications Laboratories Inc. (Comlabs) in a joint project to develop and test advanced public warning capabilities. The two private sector companies will provide the necessary infrastructure to deliver the public alert system.

The system is designed to warn citizens of imminent threats to life and property from man made and natural events. The public alerts will be broadcast on two cable channels, The Weather Network and MétéoMédia, both owned and operated by Pelmorex. These channels reach 98 percent of Canadian residents. Comlabs (www.Comlabs.com) will provide the emergency management system, EMnet, (a satellite based warning and messaging system) which allows public safety officials to communicate in a secure and efficient environment. By late 2005 the system will begin broadcasting targetted localized public alerts only to those geographical areas affected by an impeding emergency. For more information contact Ernest MacGillivray, NB Emergency Measures Organization at 800-561-4034 or ernest.macgillivray@gnb.ca.

According to the news release, this project represents Canada’s first implementation of the now internationally standardized Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) for moving public warning information between parties, and the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) for identifying areas to be alerted. The CRTC is currently reviewing applications for a national emergency broadcast system. Pelmorex has submitted an application for its All Channel Alert (ACA) public alerting system, which enables authorized government agencies to alert Canadian cable or satellite subscribers, in both official languages, to imminent threats to life or property caused by severe weather disturbances, natural disasters or other local emergencies.

The City of Red Deer ups its green power requirement

For the past five years, the City of Red Deer, Alberta had contracted ENMAX Energy Corporation to deliver power to all city-owned facilities (approximately 90). With the contract due to expire at the end of 2005, Red Deer ran a competitive process that attracted six interested energy companies. The evaluation of proposals included elements such as: the acceptability of legal contracts, billing requirements and pricing put forth by the city, and an energy requirement that included the need for 10 percent green power, an increase from the previous contract’s two percent. ENMAX, which currently provides wind-generated green power, was the winning bidder and will sign a three-year contract with the city.

Green power offers a more environmentally friendly option for producing electricity. By using renewable sources such as water, wind and sun in place of things such as coal and natural gas, smog, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. For more information contact Al Roth, manager, Electric, Light and Power, The City of Red Deer at (403) 342-8300.

Statistics Canada and Intélec Géomatique win award of excellence

The Geography Division of Statistics Canada and consulting firm, Intélec Géomatique Inc., were recently presented with ESRI Canada’s Award of Excellence (www.esricanada.com) in recognition of the automated map production project for the 2006 Census of Population, which achieved significant performance gains and provides users with the products they require.

Before every census, the Geography Division of Statistics Canada produces large quantities of maps ranging in scale and size for enumerators to use during collection of census data. In the past, cartographers produced these maps by hand. By the early 1990s, all maps for urban areas were being produced using ArcInfo. For the 2001 census, the Geography Division established the National Geographic Database (NGD), which featured a national road network. The NGD was used to automate production of all maps for that census.

For the 2006 census collection activity, the Geography Division re-engineered the application used in automated production of geographic maps to incorporate new ESRI technologies (ArcGIS 9, the geodatabase, ArcSDE, ArcObjects, and the Maplex extension). The Geography Division partnered with Intélec Géomatique, a Quebec-based Canadian firm specializing in systems development, telecommunications, and geomatics, to develop the Census Mapping System (CMS). Development of the CMS involved primarily transposing and adapting the existing mapping system used by Elections Canada, known as Electoral Maps and Reports Production System (EMRP), which was also developed by Intélec Géomatique (www.intelec.ca).

The CMS features a bilingual interface and modules supporting:

  • extraction and projection of mapping data from the National Geographic Database;
  • automatic calculation of map scales, formats, and paper sizes;
  • viewing, validation, and modification of individual maps, map scales, formats and paper sizes; and
  • rapid, high-volume generation of high-quality maps at multiple sizes.

Operational since March 2005, CMS has enabled the Geography Division to meet its map production goals. In fact the production team of less than 10 workers was able to complete the first series (41,505 unique maps of urban regions throughout Canada) within three months – an entire month ahead of schedule. Users have expressed great satisfaction with the cartographic quality of the maps. For more information, contact Daniel Paquin, Geography Division, Statistics Canada at (613) 951-3924 or daniel.paquin@statcan.ca.

Saskatchewan bumps up green power requirements

When completed, Saskatchewan’s Centennial Wind Power Facility, a 150-megawatt (MW) project currently under construction by Vestas-Canadian Wind Technology, Inc., under contract to SaskPower International (saskpowerinternational.com), will account for approximately five percent of Saskatchewan’s total electrical generation capacity. The facility is scheduled for completion by the end of 2005. As of October 2005, the Centennial Wind Power Project was the largest wind power development in Canada. When combined with Saskatchewan’s existing wind power facilities, the completion of this project will result in 172 MW of wind generation capacity in the province. The Government of Canada will provide approximately $54 million in funding over 10 years to the project through the Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI). For more information, contact Larry Christie, SaskPower at (306) 566-3167.

Canadian R&D develops fluorescent lighting dimmer controller

Fifth Light Technology Ltd, based in Oakville, Ontario, with support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), has developed a unique, patented controller system expected to reduce office lighting energy consumption by up to 60 percent. Lighting represents about 20 percent of the energy costs of running a building. For the first time, fluorescent lighting systems (found in most office and commercial buildings) using magnetic ballasts can be dimmed. Fifth Light’s technology allows for individual, automated tuning of each lighting fixture in a building in relation to the natural light available at various times of the day. SDTC is a non-profit foundation created by the Government of Canada to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies. Investing research dollars in solutions like that developed by Fifth Light pays off as energy prices creep higher and demand often outstrips supply.

Montreal’s health technopole hires SECOR to develop implementation strategy

In October 2005, the health technopole steering committee announced that it was retaining the services of SECOR Consulting to elaborate an implementation strategy for a health technopole that would integrate Montreal’s university hospital centres (CHUs) as driving forces in the development of Metro Montreal’s life sciences cluster (Montréal InVivo). The announcement was further to an RFP issued on July 28.

SECOR was selected on the basis of specific evaluation criteria, including understanding of the mandate, approach, methodology and schedule, the firm’s qualifications, experience and team members, as well as the project budget. A preliminary report will be submitted by January 2006, with a final report expected for February. Valued at approximately $400,000, the project is fully financed by partners who are represented on the Steering Committee. Steering Committee representatives include Canada Economic Development, the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Exports, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Ministry of Municipal Affaires and the Regions, the City of Montreal, Laval’s Biotech City, and Montreal International, representing the Metropolitan Montreal Life Sciences Committee (MMLSC). MMLSC is made up of about thirty policy-makers, business leaders, research centre directors, vice rectors of research from universities in the region, and senior representatives from the municipal, Québec and Canadian governments (www.montreal-invivo.com).

Membrane filtration chosen for First Nations drinking water treatment

In early October 2005, H2O Innovation (2000) Inc. announced the signing of a contract for the first phase of the drinking water treatment project for the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, a First Nation community (pop. approximately 800) situated northeast of Schefferville, Quebec. The total cost of the project is approximately $2 million. The contract was awarded following the analysis of several options available for the treatment of local groundwater or surface water from Peter Lake. Following testing in a pilot program, membrane filtration of surface water was selected by the community and approved by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. H2O is pursuing its market development using government-certified technologies, among others, for the 160 Quebec municipalities that must update to attain new standards, and for aboriginal communities throughout Canada.

Dawson Creek acknowledged for its energy plan

In late October 2005, the City of Dawson Creek received an Honourable Mention at the 2005 Energy Aware awards at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention Banquet. Phase one of the city’s energy plan, based on Pembina Research Institute (www.pembina.org) recommendations, was implemented in September of 2005 by city council. The seven recommendations included installing a solar hot water system at city hall, retrofitting existing buildings for energy conservation, and developing a vehicle purchasing policy. For more information contact Emanuel Machado, deputy director of Development Services at 250-784-3661 or emachado@dawsoncreek.ca.

Nova Scotia emergency personnel equipped with satellite phones

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works is providing $300,000 worth of satellite telephone equipment to 39 municipal emergency measures co-ordinators and 24 ground-search and rescue teams throughout the province. Included in that amount is payment for 30 minutes of satellite time for each phone, each month. The advantage of these phones is that they are not land based. They don’t rely on towers or land lines that can be compromised by bad weather or other emergencies, so they work everywhere, including areas in Yarmouth County where other phones and radios don’t work. The satellite phones communicate through a system of 44 satellites orbiting above the earth. For more information contact Steve Smith, NS Transportation and Public Works, at 902-424-2233 or smithest@gov.ns.ca.

Ontario builds online services for its physicians

The Ontario government is putting the ‘e’ into healthcare for provincial physicians, developing a variety of IT infrastructure options for them to access easily online. One such option is OntarioMD (www.OntarioMD.ca), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) that receives support from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and is hosted by the Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA). The website provides free access to medical research, clinical tools and email. It is currently undergoing testing by invited physicians before its release to all Ontario physicians in 2006.

Another option is a new third-party managed clinical management system (CMS) provided by Toronto-based xwave and UK-based GE Healthcare under a 15-year contract with the SSHA and OMA e-Services Inc. The new CMS is an alternative for physicians who choose not to invest in IT systems themselves. These doctors can subscribe to the new CMS and achieve full electronic medical record (EMR) and practice management functionality. GE Healthcare’s Centricity Physician Office software, designed to follow the workflow in a doctor’s office, is at the core of the new system.

Maryland state pilot program tracks drivers’ speed, location via cell phones

Six months ago, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) launched the Multi-Modal Travelers Information Systems (MMTIS) as a pilot program with Delcan National Engineering Technology (www.delcan.com/). MMTIS is the first large-scale, cell-phone mining program in the US, where the communications between cell phones and towers is used to provide real-time traffic data. Presently in use in the Baltimore area, MMTIS lets the SHA know the location of traffic problems and how fast the cars are moving. Moreover, MMTIS makes it easy to pinpoint and clear accidents and determine where to concentrate road-improvement funds. MMTIS does not provide information about individual cell phone users. The two-year, US$5.7 million pilot project is being funded by Delcan, the I-95 Corridor Coalition, and US federal grants.

Source: The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC).

Precarn support robotics and intelligent systems research

Ottawa-based, Precarn Incorporated is a not-for-profit national consortium of corporations, research institutes and government partners supporting the development of robotics and intelligent systems (IS), supported by Industry Canada, other federal departments and provincial government agencies. Precarn recently announced the funding of two projects.

Coastal surveillance project

Precarn will invest nearly $1 million (representing almost one-third of the total partner investment) in new funding to support the development of intelligent tools designed to speed the process of collecting and analyzing images gathered by surveillance technologies, in order to help pinpoint coastal threats earlier or deliver quicker relief to disaster situations, thus improving national security.

The coastal surveillance project is being led by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Inc. (Richmond, BC) and includes partners Actenum Corp. (Vancouver); Defence R&D Canada (Valcartier, QC); Simon Fraser University (Burnaby); and the University of Calgary. Together, they are building intelligent surveillance tools capable of extracting and processing the information collected by patrol vessels at sea, patrol aircraft and satellites before sending it to a central command centre for further processing. Extracting the relevant data reduces the volume of information to send, making it quicker to send and easier to generate a global view of a target area and to then share that view between systems, heightening accuracy. The potential applications include assisting in search and rescue attempts as well as providing security for major events, such as the Olympics.

Working with a fictitious coastal region and targets (computer simulations), the project team will enable information-rich, low-volume communications between various surveillance systems, and also provide an innovative scheduling tool to help integrate and analyze information as it is received from multiple surveillance sensors and platforms. The project is scheduled for completion by December 2007.

Pipeline inspection project

Precarn also announced more than $500,000 in funding (representing more than one-third of the total partner investment, which is just under $1.4 million) for a Canadian robotics project to ensure the continued safe and economic operation of pipelines used to transport drinking water and wastewater.

This project is being led by The Pressure Pipe Inspection Company Ltd. (Mississauga, ON), and includes partners Orvitek Inc. (Markham, ON); InvoDane Engineering Ltd. (Toronto); the Halifax Regional Water Commission (Nova Scotia); C-CORE (St. John’s, NF); and, Queen’s University (Kingston, ON). Together, they are devising an intelligent inspection ‘robot’ called PipeDiver that will be able to make real-time decisions as it travels through a Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) water pipeline.

PipeDiver is a motorized, self-contained, intelligent system capable of inspecting sections of PCCP (widely used to transport water in Canada) that are too small for humans to enter. PipeDiver is designed to fit into pipe openings as small as 12 to 18 inches and then expand once inside. It eliminates the need for humans to accompany pipe inspection tools, and also accurately pinpoints where damage exists using special electromagnetic sensors developed at Queen’s University. It could potentially save millions of dollars in pipeline repair costs. The project is scheduled for completion by December 2007.


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