News: Ontario News

Join Four New Working Groups!

July 30, 2013  
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Why reinvent the wheel? Four new working groups – Accessibility, Housing, Mobility andUnified Communications – will promote collaboration and knowledge sharing. Plans to set up a fifth group, The Microsoft SQL Work Group, are also under way.

All you have to do is sign up. Visit the MISA Ontario website at http://www.misa.on.ca , click on "Groups” under your profile, and request to become a member.

Here is more information on each group.

 

1. Accessibility Working Group

Purpose – To work collaboratively with Ontario municipalities and other stakeholders, including community, academia and vendors, to improve the accessibility of municipal service delivery.

Acting Chairs

Connie McCutcheon, manager, eGovernment/cloud solutions, Niagara Region, 905-685-4225 x 3713, connie.mccutcheon@niagararegion.ca

Chad Szymanski , client relationship management specialist , City of Toronto, 416-338-3099, cszyman@toronto.ca

Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to make it mandatory for municipalities to report on their compliance with accessibility standards. Municipalities must ensure that their services and website content are accessible to everyone.

The objectives of this working group include the following:

  • Conduct workshops and facilitate educational opportunities related to accessibility.
  • Provide information on accessibility best practices and case studies to MISA membership.
  • Provide a forum for collaboration among MISA members focused on accessibility.
  • Identify opportunities for securing grants and/or co-funding for MISA Ontario activities.
  • Communicate the activities of the working group throughout MISA Ontario membership and encourage participation in the group.

Draft terms of reference are being developed, and a chair will be elected when the terms are approved.

 

2. Housing Collaborative Initiative Working Group

Purpose To define business needs and create software to manage the administration of social housing projects of municipalities of all sizes.

Chairs

Melissa Osborne , project manager and senior manager asset planning, City of Windsor , 519-255-6100 x6111, mosborne@city.windsor.on.ca  

Josh Browne, manager, social housing administration, City of London, 519-661-0861, jbrowne@london.ca

The Housing Collaborative Initiative Team began their collaboration in 2011 when eight municipalities decided to work together and automate the millions of dollars managed by municipalities for the Social Housing program downloaded by the Province 12 years ago. It welcomes any other interested municipalities.

Background

The municipalities of Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Hamilton, London and Ottawa along with the regions of Waterloo, York and Halton struggled with the need for something more robust than Excel spreadsheets to assist service managers in their administrative role. All vendors in the social housing industry focused on the housing providers' needs, yet there was no solution developed to address the administrative functions.

While a few municipalities sourced a vendor to develop a solution or took it on internally, none of the solutions were available or flexible enough to meet the needs. Also, the development cost was well in excess of what would be reasonable for any of the municipalities involved. Recognizing in-house development was resource intensive and not normally a function of the IT divisions, these eight municipalities decided to work together and have a solution developed that would be flexible and meet all their needs, as well as those of service managers in Ontario who might want to use the system in the future.

To help reduce the development cost and ensure that the municipalities could reach a consensus on specifications, all business and functional requirements were defined by the group before sourcing a vendor for development. The flexible and configurable approach taken to develop the needs will make it a scalable system for small to large municipalities to use.

PQ Issued

After two years of monthly face-to-face workshops, documentation and confirmation of requirements and specifications, the Region of Waterloo on behalf of the group issued a pre-qualification to the market. The evaluation of the PQ was completed in June, and the group is now completing the RFP details to issue to the four vendors who will be invited to bid on the project.

 

3. Mobility Working Group

Purpose – To provide a forum to discuss mobility.

Chair

Steven Amundson, coordinator, technical support, Town of Milton, 905-878-7252 x 2126, steven.asmundson@milton.ca  

This working group will provide a one-stop shop to discuss mobility – from BYOD to desktop virtualization, and application delivery to service and support.

At the 2013 MISA Ontario Annual Conference in June, it was evident that many municipalities had mobility initiatives under way, while others had questions about how to get started. Most of these municipalities are trying to accomplish the same objectives on their own, when instead they could easily take advantage of common findings and best practices to develop and further those goals. By collaborating with others, we can see what others have accomplished, adding to our own solutions and service offerings to continually improve and expand them.

If others join and show interest in meeting or at least having virtual meetings, Steve is happy to coordinate them. The beauty of mobility is that you can do this from anywhere!

 

4. Unified CommunicationsWorking Group

Purpose – To collect and share information on unified communications (UC).

Chair

Dave Hordyk, unified communications administrator, Region of Waterloo, 519-575-4570 x3108,  DHordyk@regionofwaterloo.ca  

Unified Communications is a fairly new topic for many municipalities. Some know what they want it to accomplish but are uncertain of what it is and entails. This is a go-to group for MISA members who are investigating UC, struggling with implementation, or have successfully implemented it and can help others starting out. It is a tool to use in searching for information, posting questions, and finding answers. Information could range from a technical discussion about UC and its components, to challenges faced and vendor solutions used by various municipalities.

 

Three forums are currently available:

1. General Discussions – Definition of UC, advantages, implementation stories including successes/ lessons learned, and work-group operations.

2. Technology

  • Infrastructure – What does and doesn't work (servers, switches, cables, routers, bandwidth and connection).
  • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) – How SIP works and fits into UC.
  • Private branch exchange (PBX) – How PBXs work and can tie into a unified communications solution.
  • Voice and video – Bandwidth and hardware issues: how much bandwidth is enough, and how to minimize the effect of video and voice traffic on your infrastructure.

3. Vendor Services/Software – How vendors' products are used in unified communications: Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Exchange, Avaya Scopia – Video Conferencing, Avaya Aura, Cisco WebEx and Cisco Jabber.

These forums are a starting point, and others may be added as the need arises. Depending on the interest of group members, meetings may be held in the future.

For more information, see http://www.misa-asim.ca/members/forums/?group=111607 .