On October 2 & 3, IdentityNORTH held its inaugural Eastern Workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over two days, leaders and innovators from both the private and public sectors came together to share their challenges and successes in this ever-evolving industry. One key takeaway – Atlantic Canada is a hub for innovation and is making serious strides in the digital identity space.

The Eastern Innovation hub

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage opened the conference with a call to business and public sector leaders to look to Atlantic Canada as a testbed for new and exciting innovations.

Chris Crowell, Vice President of Corporate Innovation at Halifax Innovation Hub Volta Labs, discussed working locally while competing globally and the opportunity that Atlantic Canada presents for companies and individuals who are seeking the advantages of East Coast living combined with a workforce that is global tech ready.

Charlotte Murray, Entrepreneur in Residence at Propel, built on these remarks, saying that “Startup methodology in corporate innovation is key.”

Michael Branchflower, Vice President, Sales & Strategic Marketing at Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI), applauded the progress in the province, highlighting the importance of the government, academia and private sector coming together.    

“Our ecosystem is growing across the country, we have tech and security companies that are thriving,” he said. “Nova Scotia truly stands out, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and digital identity.”

There is a lot of potential for the young minds of the region to excel, as Atlantic Canada is home to many top-ranked institutions, with 29 colleges and universities across its four provinces.

The University of New Brunswick’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity is Canada’s research leader in cybersecurity. Alina Matyukhina, Researcher and PhD Candidate at the Institute, offered tips on how to defend against cyber attacks. She explained how to protect IoT devices, identify individual hackers and how to protect against ransomware.  “Reveal the bad guys and protect the good guys,” were her main takeaways.

As most of the country gears up for elections, Linda Fares and Peter Gzowski of Elections Nova Scotia discussed innovation in the voting process.  Although the processes on election day haven’t changed much in some years, there have been some changes, such as employing technology at the polls. Fares agreed that the system needs to evolve, in keeping with their key values of accessibility, transparency and accountability. The future is online voting, yet this is seen as an additional challenge. They pointed out that currently, authentication processes are not at a high enough level, and there are security risks in the system. There is a fine balance between modernizing voting while also maintaining its traditional aspects. “The social processes of getting together and seeing your neighbour vote is part of the democratic process,” noted Gzowski.

Although many challenges must be overcome to provide digital voting options, digital ID is making great strides in other sectors.

Charlotte Murray presents

True North strong…

At previous IdentityNORTH events, we have witnessed collaboration between provinces. At the Eastern Workshop, the majority of the speakers sat on panels which comprised of representatives from one, or multiple provinces.

In her session on ‘exponential collaboration’, DIACC President Joni Brennan offered a superhero analogy. “Digital Identity is having its Avengers moment,” she said. “Despite their differences, Avengers always find a way to work together.” This analogy offers valuable lessons, such as teamwork and the value of being a part of something bigger. “It’s when those groups come together that the real magic begins to happen,” she said.

Arlene Williams, Director of Digital Strategy, Governance and Performance at Service Nova Scotia, and Susan Wilkins, Digital Government Lead at the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, shared their province’s digital strategies, which emphasize simpler and faster services.

Performing user research is key to determine who accesses the services. Wilkins outlined five personas, ranging from ‘Traditional Thomas’ to ‘Changemaker Chris’. “Who are our clients? What is their trust in government?” she asked. “You have to know who you’re building these systems for.”

Advancing digital health is also a priority area. Jerome Foster, Director at eHealth NB, shared details of his province’s MyLabsNB pilot project, an app that New Brunswickers can use to access lab results from their phone. The ultimate vision is to provide personal access to electronic health records. “We wanted to build something that was meaningful, put results in the hands of the actual patient,” he said. The app went live in June with a small group of participants.

Important questions were posed, such as – what kind of digital services are of value to your citizens? “There are some really interesting things happening, and I think we are just scratching the surface of what identity is,” noted Jason Powell, Engineering Site Director at Ping Identity.

The conversation is just getting started, and we are excited to see what comes next.

Want to hear more about what happened at the IdentityNORTH Eastern Workshop? join our community mailing list to view the full Conference Report, produced with the support and sponsorship of 2Keys.

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2019-03-11T19:02:51+00:00October 23rd, 2018|Categories: Events|