Coffee Briefing Oct. 3 – Cisco renews funding for Connected North; Amazon Bedrock goes GA; SCALE AI invests over $20 million in five AI projects; and more

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Government of Ontario, TakingITGlobal and Cisco renew funding for Connected North Program

The Government of Ontario, TakingITGlobal (TIG), and Cisco Canada have announced the renewal of funding for the Connected North Program.

Founded by Cisco Canada and managed by Toronto-based non-governmental organization TIG, the program will provide live, interactive sessions to students in 55 schools located in remote, Indigenous communities for the 2023-24 school year.

The announcement comes at the 10 year anniversary of the program, which currently serves 35,000 students in 150 schools in northern communities. It plans on doubling the number of schools served by 2030.

The government of Ontario has contributed nearly C$2 million over two years towards this program.

“As we continue on our journey of making reconciliation real, our government is committed to ensuring equitable access to education for Indigenous students regardless of where they live or go to school.” said Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous Affairs, government of Ontario. “Ensuring a more prosperous future for the next generation starts with overcoming barriers to education, and we are proud to support the Connected North program.”

AWS announces general availability of Amazon Bedrock


Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the general availability of Amazon Bedrock, its fully managed service that makes foundation models (FMs) from leading companies available through a single application program interface (API).

With Amazon Bedrock, customers can experiment with a variety of FMs and customize them with their proprietary data. It also offers capabilities to create – without writing any code – managed agents that can execute complex business tasks. It’s also serverless, eliminating the need for customers to manage any infrastructure.

In the coming weeks, Amazon Bedrock will also offer Llama 2, Meta’s next-generation LLM, through a managed API.

Additionally, customers can access the one-hour Amazon Bedrock—Getting Started digital course, launched last week, introducing learners to the service.

AWS also announced the general availability of Amazon Titan Embeddings, a large language model that converts text into numerical representations called embeddings, to power search, personalization, and Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) use cases. 

Amazon’s unified business intelligence (BI) service, Amazon Quicksight and AI-powered coding companion, Amazon CodeWhisperer are also getting new capabilities.

Rogers makes 5G service available on the TTC for all Canadians using other carriers


Rogers announced that Canadians using any major wireless carrier can now connect to 5G and talk, text and stream in the busiest sections of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), including all stations and tunnels in the Downtown U, the tunnels between St. George and Bloor-Yonge stations, and the thirteen stations from Keele to Castle Frank, plus Spadina and Dupont stations.

This comes after Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne ordered Rogers, amid soaring safety concerns on the TTC, to share the information and infrastructure necessary for other carriers to also provide 5G service on the TTC.

“Our dedicated team of technologists designed and introduced an immediate solution that added capacity, so Bell and Telus could join the network,” said Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer, Rogers. “For over 10 years, subway riders have been without mobile phone services, and the Rogers team is pleased to step up and make 5G a reality for all riders today.”

Rogers became the sole provider of service on the TTC after it acquired BAI Communications Canada, which held the exclusive rights to build out the network on the TTC. 

Prior to today’s announcement, only Rogers’ own customers, and those of Freedom Mobile, could talk, text and stream on the TTC. Customers of other providers could nonetheless access 911 service.

Next step for Rogers in the deployment of service on the TTC would be to establish commercial agreements with other providers, following which, all carriers will have six months to cover all current stations, two years to cover 80 per cent of existing tunnels and three years to cover 100 per cent of tunnels.

SCALE AI invests over $20 million in five key AI projects 

Last week at ALL IN, innovation hub SCALE AI announced an investment of more than $20 million for five AI projects designed to strengthen supply chain processes and enable companies to increase productivity and efficiency.

“Since its creation, SCALE AI has invested in concrete artificial intelligence applications to encourage the growth of leading Canadian companies in many sectors,” said Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne. “This announcement shows a continued dedication to this growth, with each project announced today helping to build a more resilient and efficient supply chain in Canada.”

The five projects, led by ALDO Group, EllisDon, ATS, Visual Defence, and Cléo include:

  1. Revenue Management for Retail & Supply Chain Through Artificial Intelligence
  2. AI-Driven Subcontractor, Labour and Equipment Management
  3. Autonomous Procurement Pricing System
  4. Resilient Supply Chains Through Well-Maintained Transportation Systems
  5. Predicting Usage Cycles for Electric Vehicles

Swoop and Sage partner to deliver funding to businesses


Fintech company Swoop and financial management software provider Sage have announced a global partnership to help businesses and accountants access a wide range of funding opportunities.

“In a world full of fluctuations, with inflation and interest rates on the rise, businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, so it is important to make business finance more accessible and less daunting,” said Chip Mahan, global commercial head, Fintech, Payments & Banking at Sage. “This partnership with Swoop aligns perfectly with our mission and will make accessing essential financial capital quick and easy, ensuring businesses have the support they need to succeed.”

Through this partnership, Sage accountants benefit immediately through a discounted price of the Swoop for Advisors platform, which allows accountants and business advisors easy access to financial solutions for their clients. 

Additionally, Swoop users can integrate their Sage Intacct and Sage Business Cloud Accounting software to uncover financial insights and tools as well as cost-savings.

More to explore

Canadian businesses struggle to keep pace in tech race, KPMG survey reveals

Canadian companies are falling behind their global counterparts in the race to adopt crucial digital technologies, risking their competitive edge and financial stability, states the 2023 KPMG Global Tech Report.

Streamers with C$10 million or more in Canadian revenue subject to Bill C-11 under CRTC’s new rules

Last Friday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wrapped up two out of the three public consultations it launched in May related to the enactment of Bill C-11 (Online Streaming Act).

Exim issues email server update, mitigations for 6 zero-day vulnerabilities

Network administrators with Exim Main Transfer Agent email servers in their environments are being urged to update their servers today or apply mitigations to close six zero-day vulnerabilities.

It turns out that the “sky is not the limit” for AI in aerospace industries

In the heart of Montreal at the “ALL IN” AI conference, a panel of industry leaders from Canada’s aerospace sector gathered to discuss the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI)in their industry.

Admins urged to quickly patch holes in WS_FTP file transfer server

Another set of critical vulnerabilities has been found in a file transfer application, raising worries that, if exploited before being patched, it too will lead to a huge number of data breaches.

Bullish on SMBs, Cisco looks to channel to target sector in a big way

Results of a new survey released last week contained both positive and encouraging news for channel partners who focus on managed services or will soon do so.

Channel Bytes September 29, 2023 – Dell Apex Cloud now on Azure; WatchGuard acquires CyGlass; launches virtual assistant for Zoom contact Center; and more

Staying informed is a constant challenge. There’s so much to do, and so little time. But we have you covered. Grab a coffee and take five while you nibble on these tidbits.

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Trending

Hashtag Trending Oct.3- A lie detector for AI models; Meta using your conversations to train its AI; Problems with the new iPhone 15 continue to surface

Listen to the latest episode of Cybersecurity Today

Cyber Security Today, Oct. 2, 2023 – Advice for creating a cybersecurity awareness program

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Tendances

If you live in Québec, or prefer to consume the latest technology news in French, our sister publication Direction Informatique has you covered. Follow them on Twitter as well.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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