Last week, Dave McGarva, Managing Principal of Management Consulting here at Tantus Solutions, co-presented The Art of Collaboration at the 2015 MISA Prairies Chapter Annual Conference.
A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between MISA Prairies and miso soup, but that was before Tantus was fortunate enough to work with this group to explore opportunities for municipal technology collaboration. MISA is the Municipal Information Systems Association and Alberta is very well represented in the Prairies chapter. During this project, funded by the Government of Alberta under the Regional Collaboration Grant, I worked with 29 Alberta municipalities, asking their IT professionals to look at their applications from the perspective of their partner departments and assess them for opportunities to share with others or opportunities to piggy back on the efforts of others in the name of economies of scale and service improvement. In other words, could these municipalities collaborate with one another to share costs and improve their IT applications?
It was a fascinating project and the project manager, Sabina Visser of the City of Lethbridge, and I were asked to present the project at the MISA Prairies conference in Banff last week. (The slide deck is available on SlideShare, and in this post). Presenting was fun and the sessions were good, but what struck me most was the diversity and expertise of the conference attendees. Let me introduce you to some of these fascinating folks. The list could easily have been much longer, but time limits all things – maybe next year, Gordon, Corey, Marty and Natalia.
Mark Goddard, Director – Member Services Infrastructure (Info-Tech)
Mark knows his stuff and in his role representing a technology research company, makes a compelling case for using solid research in the initiation phase of all technology initiatives. What separated him from the crowd is his knowledge of beer! 726 different brands consumed as of last Thursday. All of this experience is documented and catalogued at http://thebeerlist.ca/. Here is a guy who can clarify ABV and IBU and tell you which lager to pair with a steak salad. Now that is practical knowledge sharing!
Adam Sharmann, Manager – Information Services at Sturgeon County
Get two minor hockey dads going and it is hard to stop! Adam is overseeing the IT support for one of the fastest growing municipal organizations in Alberta. Moving from a mandate-focussed on roads and agricultural support to one that includes full-suite service delivery, economic development and residential expansion is no small task. It is fun to hear him talk about his workplace challenges as one would talk about their kid’s next tough hockey game – optimistic, excited and prepared.
Allan Wingenbach, Supervisor – Information Technology at Town of Canmore
It is hard to believe that there is a better combination of rocky mountain laid-back and ready-for-business IT professional. Allan calls home what many around the world consider a dream vacation destination, but he wants to talk scalability. Between summer season and ski season is a time when Canmore empties briefly before the downhill hordes return. Throw in one municipal building that appears to be in the universe’s black hole of broadband access. Want to take a guess what this does to need forecasting and fulfilling business support? Ask Allan and he will tell you, but in a way that makes you want to work with him to figure it out.
Sophie Mercer, Information Systems Coordinator at County of Grande Prairie
You know that person that takes on an incredibly complex task, makes it run like clockwork and never seems frazzled? Yeah, that’s Sophie. There she is supporting the organizing committee for a conference of 160 delegates, 59 individual presentations and events in 10 tracks, 41 speakers. No problem! And to top it all off, when the crowd won’t settle down for an announcement, does she scream or yell or clink a glass with a fork? Of course not, she belts out the ‘Star Search’ part of 1970s Joplin power ballad, “Piece of My Heart.” Reaction? Silence.
Geoff Hogan, IT Director at the County of Grey
You know those smug Ontario guys who come out west and act like they invented the Internet? That is certainly not Geoff, but he may actually be helping to reinvent it for southwest Ontario. Geoff has a lead role in a project called SWIFT (SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology). Their tag line is ‘Ultra-high speed broadband for everyone’ which hits home to those living on the prairies outside the high population density centres. SWIFT starts with the premise that there isn’t a business case for for-profit providers to run reasonably priced fibre connectivity to rural sites. They propose to use public money to change that business case to incent private industry to build this network while providing a royalty back to SWIFT to fund further development. Geoff is very passionate about the topic and is happy to chat with you about the current (and imminent) digital divide among large parts of Canada and wants to be part of the solution.
— Dave McGarva
This post was written by Dave. If you’d like to talk to him about why you’re not on his list this year, feel free to contact him.