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Emergency planning

Emergency communication software to be assessed

TORONTO – Toronto-based Tenet Computer Group Inc. has entered into a partnership with George Brown College’s School of Emergency Management to test technology that will help healthcare providers better communicate during a pandemic crisis, such as the current H1N1 outbreak or a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina.

The software being tested, called the Pandemic Management Toolkit, will allow government and hospital officials as well as emergency response teams to rapidly disseminate information related to breaking public crises in an effort to contain and mitigate damage, injury and death. George Brown College’s School of Emergency Management and its Emergency Operations Centre - the only facilities of their kind in Canada - will assess and refine the software through real-life simulations involving major prolonged and pervasive emergencies.

The partnership – partially funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Government of Canada - is the latest initiative of George Brown College’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation, designed to fill the growing scarcity of local venture capital available to small and medium enterprises for expediting the development, refinement and marketing of new technologies and services.

“The opportunity to test this innovative software in realistic, virtual scenarios through George Brown College is invaluable to the future development of this product and will play a critical role in taking this technology from its conceptual stage to a refined product that is set for implementation in centres around the world,” said Carlos Paz-Soldan, President of Tenet Computer Group Inc. “The purpose of the Toolkit is to leverage information and communications technology to give us more capabilities to deal with the impact of a pandemic or a natural disaster. Having George Brown’s unique expertise to test the product will be critical to its success.”

The School of Emergency Management will be simulating and testing the Toolkit’s fan-out module capability, which provides users with a centralized means of communicating with stakeholders. This function uses a variety of communication tools – including e-mail, SMS, Blackberry PIN, the Internet, fax and telephone – to communicate with all members of an organization. It then tracks and organizes their responses to better coordinate the personnel required for the emergency.

For example, a fan-out notification can be disseminated to pre-identified recipients and request respondents to reply with their estimated response time. The module will then track all the response times in a central location and allow those coordinating the emergency response to identify the turn-around time and manpower available to respond.

“George Brown College is committed to playing a vital role supporting innovation in the GTA, and this project with Tenet not only supports the innovation of a key business partner, but has the potential to play a significant role in helping the city save lives and mitigate the effects of emergencies,” said Robert Luke, Director, George Brown College’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation. “We will soon be able to demonstrate through realistic simulations precisely how this software will allow the free flow of communication between the most critical stakeholders in the city.”

Coincidentally, the project comes on the heels of the recent H1N1 outbreak – recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization – which has infected hundreds of people in Canada and caused alarm among health and government officials who moved quickly to alert the public and contain the problem.

“Planning for a pandemic and executing such a plan under stress will be a very complex undertaking,” said Doctor Allison McGeer, Director, Infection Control at Mount Sinai Hospital, and a supporter of the George Brown College-Tenet partnership. “One advantage of planning in the 21st century is that technology may give us a fighting chance.”

When a serious pandemic or emergency strikes, organizations will unavoidably be caught in the difficult position of executing emergency plans under stress and time constraints and with limited staff. This collaboration between Tenet and George Brown College will produce a technology that will facilitate the flow of information between critical stakeholders, allowing them to act more quickly and mitigate the effects of a pandemic or major emergency.

About Tenet Computer Group Inc.
Established in 1984, Tenet Computer Group Inc. is a privately owned Toronto-based SME providing information technology products and services to hospitals and mid-size corporations. Visit www.tenet.com.

About George Brown College
With nine out of 10 graduates getting jobs within six months of graduation, Toronto’s George Brown College has established a reputation for equipping students with the skills, industry experience and credentials to pursue the careers of their choice. From its three main campuses located across the downtown core, George Brown offers more than 150 programs across a wide variety of professions. Students can earn diplomas, post-graduate certificates, industry accreditations, apprenticeships and four-year bachelor degrees. More than 20,000 students attend the College (full-time equivalent) with about 65,000 registered with the George Brown College School of Continuing Education. For more information, please visit www.georgebrown.ca

Posted July 16/09.

 

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