ITAC winners dish on oil spills, health research

With BP’s drilling facility still leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Toronto-based software company Dyadem International Inc. took home the Information Technology Association of Canada’s 2010 Corporate IT Hero Award for a piece of software that might have helped curtail the environmental disaster.


Dyadem was awarded the annual ITAC prize for its flagship Stature software platform. The Web-based application aims to improve change and risk management by managing the risks associated with hazardous processes and the quality issues associated with designing and building products.

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In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, Dyadem’s centralized platform would keep a global drug company fully connected, with the design team using the same Web software as the manufacturing team.


But while Dyadem has flourished in this space, CEO Kevin North said the company started out specializing in the oil and gas sector. With Stature, North said, BP could have identified potential failures around equipment and drilling processes.


“On the other side, we actually can use the exact same software for protecting employees, putting mitigating procedures in place and best practices to protect the employees when an event like that does happen,” he said.


“At the very least I know the company would be in a state of preparedness and readiness and they would be thinking far beyond compliance,” he added.


North said the problem with many companies is they’re just thinking about compliance as opposed to proactive risk management. Companies need to ensure they never take anything for granted in their processes, which he said, can only be accomplished with the right company culture and a centralized software platform for risk and change management.


The ITAC award was “flattering” and an “honour” to win, North said. It was especially nice to be recognized because of how well the company’s platform fit the award criteria as a technology that improves the lives of Canadian employees and the conduct of Canadian businesses, he said.


“Our awards program is very important to us and it means something to customers and employees,” North said.


In addition to the corporate winner, ITAC also dished out its annual Community IT Hero Award to a monitoring tool developed by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.


The Metabolic Health Monitor (MHM) tool aims to aid clinicians in tracking metabolic risk markers such as personal history, weight, Body Mass Index and blood pressure among people suffering from serious mental illness. Dr. Tony Cohn, a lead psychiatrist at CAMH, developed the Web-based system with a particular focus on patients with schizophrenia.


He said the MHM will allow clinicians to study these patients and the medications they use, which can sometimes contribute to unhealthy weight gain, increased diabetes risk and higher rates of cigarette smoking.


“This population hasn’t had good preventive health care,” Cohn said, adding that doctor’s offices are often too busy to deal with these special circumstances and push patients along.


As a result of the award, Cohn hopes that the tool might garner some attention at other health research centres. And because of the platform is available via the Web, the tool could easily be applicable to hospitals around the world, which could also give CAMH the opportunity to compare and contract their data with other regions.

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