• Written by haligonia.ca
  • Category: SmartCity Blog

Brightest and Darkest Minds Coming to Halifax

Guest Post by Travis Barlow

Computer chip Everyone keep their computers indoors this week because come March 21 and 22 Halifax is going to be flooded with hackers on their way to AtlSecCon at the World Trade and Convention center. 

As Eastern Canada’s premiere InfoSec conference AtlSecCon brings together some of the brightest and darkest minds together with one common goal – to expand the pool of IT Security knowledge beyond its typical confines.

Now in its third year, this conference has grown leaps and bounds doubling in attendance each year, with this year looking to be no different.  This growth is mostly due to the quality of content that the conference provides, which is timely and up to date information in the world of information security. 

Always wanting to raise the bar this year’s Keynote will be delivered by Richard Stiennon, author of Surviving Cyberwar (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010) and UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence (IT-Harvest Press, 2012).  Stiennon is an industry analyst who not only covers the IT security space but has spent a lot of time investigating the technology research business. Stiennon was also named one of the "50 Most Powerful People in Networking" by Network World Magazine.

In addition to that, the conference is also making an international impact with speakers traveling in from as far away as Australia (Eldar Marcussen) and Argentina (Matias Katz).

So, come one come all and have a hackin’ good time with some really friendly folks who are trying to make your digital world just that much safer while trying to have some fun along the way.

Visit the AtlSecCon website for more information or to register for the conference.


Author: Travis Barlow

Travis-Barlow Travis Barlow has over 15 years of experience in the IT field, the majorly of it in the IT Security realm. He is the founder of the Atlantic Security Conference (AtlSecCon) and the Halifax Area Security Klatch (HASK) and has been recognized by Digital Nova Scotia as an Industry Leader


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  • Written by Rouge
  • Category: SmartCity Blog

GIS Gives Businesses a Competitive Edge


GIS intelligence about customers, business locations and socioeconomic trends helps companies gain a competitive edge


Imagine knowing before launching a marketing campaign in a new neighbourhood that the profile of your customer is already there. Or being able to gain a first mover advantage by selecting a new business location in an up-and-coming neighbourhood based on the socioeconomic trends before your competition moves in driving up real estate values.

As business evolves, getting an edge in the marketplace can be very advantageous. Today, with new technologies popping up and data becoming more readily available, businesses can take advantage of both data and technology to gather valuable intelligence about their customers, business locations and socioeconomic trends.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) marries the art of cartography and strategic decision making by utilizing geo-referenced data (data with location markers attached, e.g. postal code, county, or neighbourhood). This specialized data has been long underutilized in strategic planning and decision making, mostly due to its unavailability. However, this trend is reversing.  Most of today’s demographic and social media data that is being collected is geo referenced. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft are just a handful of companies that have realized the potential of these specialized data sets.

The days of business leaders using subjective techniques to map key target market characteristics to strategic plans are dwindling.  By utilizing GIS and the most up-to-date quantitative datasets, businesses can take the guess work out of identifying existing and potential customers as well as competitors. In addition, depending on company owned source data, trending, regression and other analysis can be combined with geo referenced public data to provide further insight into your customer base and competition.  

Within the next ten years - because of the ship building contract, the off shore oil and natural gas exploration and the Muskrat Falls project - many businesses will be vying to find their place in Halifax. It is our belief that the businesses which will truly succeed within this expanding marketplace will be the ones that are most familiar with the city and its population. Today in our great city of Halifax the municipal government has been kind enough to open their data sets for anybody who wants them. One of the greatest things about HRM’s data is that much of it is geo referenced. Geo-dem will take full advantage of this data not just in displaying it but also data mining it to explore the true potential of it. 

Analyzing things such as real estate prices, population density, and neighbourhood profiling and general services can be very valuable to businesses at any stage of growth. These are only a few examples in a vast range of options when it comes to business intelligence and Geographic Information Systems.


Author: Charles McIlveen

Charles McIlveen is the CEO of GEO-DEM, a Halifax-based consulting company specializing in providing clients with demographic analysis and information needed for effective strategic decision-making. For more information visit www.geo-dem.com.


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  • Written by Jill Mader
  • Category: SmartCity Blog

Keep Austin Weird

by Nancy Phillips

Austin-sign We are just wrapping up our visit to Austin, Texas - home of the Texas Longhorns and some great tex mex. Austin, the state capital, is very different from Houston and Dallas. It has kept its original charm and small town feel.

Austin has grown from a population of 250,000 in the early 1980's to well over 1.3 million people today. They say it is the fastest growing city in the US. Austin is know as a City of Creativity and is home to Dell Computers. In fact, the world-famous South by South West Conference starts just after we leave; we're sorry we can't be here to participate.

In Austin they don't ask how fast is the "download speed" they ask how fast is the "upload speed". This is something to think about as we build and grow our creative community in Halifax. 

We're departing this morning for Denver, Colorado - trading the cowboy boots for snow boots!


Author: Nancy Phillips

Nancy Nancy Phillips, Director of Investment and Trade at the Greater Halifax Partnership and the Executive Director of the Halifax Gateway Council, is one of six Canadian women who are visiting the United States under the Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).  

From February 25 to March 16, the Canadian delegation is visiting five U.S. cities – Washington, Kansas City, Austin, Denver and San Francisco - to learn about entrepreneurial efforts initiated by women in the U.S. and the influence of social, economic and political factors on U.S. private enterprises. 




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  • Written by haligonia.ca
  • Category: SmartCity Blog

Recruiting New Grads: Canadian Trends and Practices

Guest post by Paul Smith

Halifax graduation ceremony Recruiting new graduates offers access to untapped potential when it works, but it may also expose employers to significant risk and expense when it doesn’t. Clearly, you want to maximize the potential while diminishing the risk, but achieving the desired balance can be tricky.

Valid and reliable information can make a difference, so allow me to introduce The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers' (CACEE) Campus Recruitment and Benchmark Survey.

Since 2007 CACEE has produced an annual report on the new graduate recruitment practices of employers throughout Canada. The survey details the level of full-time and co-op/internship hiring, the average salaries paid to new graduates, and the anticipated change in starting salary levels for the coming recruiting season. Finally, the survey establishes a number of benchmarks for recruiting practices used by Canadian employers.

The 2012 Report was released in October, and featured a number of key findings. Here are a few highlights:

  • At a time of unemployment and underemployment for post-secondary graduates, recruiters in a number of sectors again experienced difficulty meeting their hiring goals. Engineering positions once again take the top spot on this list, with 28.6% of positions unfilled. Banking in its various forms also experienced difficulty, combining to account for 18% of vacancies.
  • The average wage for university new graduates recruits (the largest contingent of hires in the survey) in Canada in 2012 was $51,014, down 5% from the 2011 average of $53,717.
  • The average acceptance rate for offers to new college recruits was approximately 81%, a significant increase over the level recorded in 2010.

There is a lot more information available; some of it is quite detailed and broken down by region. If you want to know what other employers are doing in their new grad hiring, you'll want to read this report. You can visit www.cacee.com for more information or to buy a copy.

And if you want to know more about the effective recruitment and retention of international students / new Canadians, please join us in Moncton on April 5th for a conversation on “Building Atlantic Canada’s Workforce through International Recruitment.” You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info. 

Author: Paul Smith

Paul Smith is the Executive Director of The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers.



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  • Written by I Love Sparkles
  • Category: SmartCity Blog

Busting the Myths and Misconceptions of Nova Scotia’s non-residential Building Sector

Guest post by Brad Smith

Img_crane_library The non-residential building sector, which includes industrial and commercial construction, produces over 10% of Nova Scotia’s annual gross domestic product. Such a large contribution to our economy indicates the significant and positive impact professional trades make to our province.

In the next number of months, I intend on traveling throughout Nova Scotia to discuss just that and to debunk some of the myths and misperceptions that have been mistakenly associated with this sector

In Nova Scotia, the most prominent  myth is that there is a skills shortage in the province. Economic statistics paint a different story. Consider the following. We have all heard the stories, or experienced friends and family leaving the province to find work. In fact the province loses about 3,500 people each year to out-migration. Additionally we have an unemployment rate close to 10 percent and youth unemployment close to 20%. One of the founding principles of labour economics is people stay, or leave dependent upon the job opportunities available in an area. We see evidence of this everyday within Nova Scotia in the shrinking of rural communities. Many people want to live in rural communities but there are few who can do so without work. The same principle applies to us as a province as we see the loss of our best to other jurisdictions across Canada.

Specifically in the building trades there is further evidence to debunk the skill shortage myth, specifically the professional skilled tradespeople. In Nova Scotia, about 15 percent of the Building Trades skilled tradespeople are commuters, meaning they travel outside NS to go to work and return on bi-weekly or monthly rotations. They don’t do this because they want to spend extended time away from their family. They do so out of economic necessity. Is there further data to explain why this is happening? In a province with one of the highest costs of living, Nova Scotia has the second lowest average weekly wages in Canada. And if you break down the statistics even further you find that the construction sector’s weekly wages in Nova Scotia is 24 percent less than the national average.

So what’s the real challenge here? Is it a skills shortage, or a shortage of good-paying jobs?

This province has a highly skilled sought after workforce. But they are leaving for other, better paying opportunities. If we want to retain our skilled workers, we don’t have to match wages, but we must close the gap. In a global competitive market we have to compete for capital, we have to compete for business, and we need to provide a sufficient income and benefits to attract and retain skilled professionals. Retaining our skilled professionals means more people in this province will be supported by salaries, health benefits and pensions and will give back to our community.


About the Author:

Brad-Smith Brad Smith is the Executive Director of the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council which provides highly-skilled professional tradespeople for contractors and owners, promotes and develops business for its members, and provides a united, powerful voice to issues affecting the trades.   


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