B2B News for Tuesday, October 5, 2021: Planning for Emergencies, Interac Acquires SecureKey & Office Mental Health Matters

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Did you mark yourself “safe” from yesterday’s Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp outage? The usual feed of pictures of cats and everyone’s kids returned last night after the day-long outage coincided with found Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before a house committee on Capitol Hill. Users expressed something akin to elation on Twitter as the billionaire’s fortunes took a direct hit, leaving his family with only enough money to solve global warming, end famine and house the world’s homeless population.

COVID-19 is not the only threat. Your desk is not a safe place. That’s true if you consider the stress of office politics, the threat of workplace bullying, the poor health outcomes of both overwork and the sedentary nature of sitting and typing. That said, everywhere and everything else is dangerous too. Especially during holidays.

With the Thanksgiving long weekend coming up, Canadian emergency services are preparing for an increase in business. 7 of 10 Canadian emergency services control rooms surveyed report a spike in calls over holidays and long weekends. Control rooms are encouraging the public to download and familiarize themselves with the what3words app says the app’s creators.

what3words uses grids of 10-foot squares and has given each square a unique combination of 3 random words: a what3words address. The technology is available in 50 languages and does not store or track users’ location data. Contrary to popular belief, emergency control centres often cannot automatically detect a caller’s precise location. Using a what3words address gives callers a simple way to describe precisely where help is needed.

 “As the largest city in Canada, Toronto is a bustling city that boasts beautiful greenspaces, waterfront, beaches and tourist attractions. In areas without clearly marked addresses like the waterfront, or hiking trails within greenspaces, it can be challenging for the 9-1-1 Communications Centre to locate a caller in an emergency to dispatch responders,” said Tracy Finn, ENP Coordinator, 9-1-1 Emergency Voice Services, Toronto Police. Utilizing what3words’ innovative location technology has assisted and enabled Communications Operators to work with Callers to know exactly where to dispatch resources when every second counts. Help us, help you, to know exactly where you are.”

Press release: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211003005076/en/Help-Us-to-Help-You—Emergency-Services-Across-Canada-Encourage-Public-to-Download-Free-Location-App-what3words-Ahead-of-Expected-Surge-in-9-1-1-Calls-Around-Thanksgiving

Interact Corp has agreed to acquire SecureKey Technologies Inc. SecureKey is a digital ID and authentication provider that works with governments, financial institutions, and businesses.  

The acquisition of the SecureKey Canadian business contracts and exclusive licence in Canada of its intellectual property is the latest investment by Interac to bring together digital identification and authentication capabilities. It acquired 2Keys Corporation in 2019.

“At Interac, we believe that digital ID is the key to empowering all Canadians to participate equally and safely in the future of the digital economy,” said Mark O’Connell, President and CEO at Interac. “Through this acquisition, we are proud to increase our investment in leading identification and authentication capabilities as we work to support businesses and governments across Canada in delivering secure and convenient digital ID experiences for Canadians.”  

Press release: https://www.interac.ca/en/content/news/interac-corp-acquires-exclusive-rights-to-securekey-digital-id-services-for-canada/

It’s now safer to tell your employer when you aren’t feeling well. Over the past year, the number of American employees who feel empowered to let someone at their company know when they aren’t feeling physically or mentally well is up to 78% from 40% in 2020. The findings come from a U.S. employee wellness survey commissioned by TELUS International. Their chief competitor in Canada runs the much maligned Bell Let’s Talk campaign for mental health. Bell’s reputation for supporting employee mental health has faced public scrutiny after former employees came forward about the stresses and anxiety they experienced at the company.

Today’s survey results, compared to those reported in October 2020, indicate that some employers have changed their approach and are better supporting mental health needs. Fewer employees today say they would quit their job for another that better prioritized mental health (57% in 2021 vs. 80% in 2020).

“In this age of technology and social connection we are all experiencing the significant impact of the global pandemic in real time around the clock, as well as on a sustained basis as we collectively navigate this fourth wave. These factors have served to amplify the stressors and emotional tolls the pandemic has brought as well as the disruptions to our routines and day-to-day experiences, including how and where we work,” said Marilyn Tyfting, chief corporate officer of TELUS International. “The result has been a much needed shift in the past year from a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ attitude to a ‘do ask, do tell and let’s talk’ mindset that has transformed the way society perceives and discusses mental health, both more generally and in the context of the workplace. Employees need, and are increasingly asking for, resources to help them cope with mental health challenges, and companies are responding by enhancing the breadth and scope of programs and services they provide, as well as making them more accessible.”

Press release: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211005005440/en/One-Year-Later-Follow-Up-to-2020-Research-Reveals-More-Employers-Prioritizing-Employee-Mental-Health

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Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is a former Managing Editor of B2BNN. Her technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun and the Bay Street Bull. She is the author of the short story collections Love from Planet Wine Cooler and Dry Stories. Find links to recent articles by following her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-baggott-9a0306/