The Pulse: April 29, 2021

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  • 14°C: Cloudy. Periods of rain ending in the morning. 60% chance of showers late in the morning. Clearing in the afternoon. High 14. (forecast)
  • 3-1: The Oilers (29-16-2) defeated the Jets (27-19-3). (details)

Alberta tech companies partner to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to supply chains

Alberta tech companies partner to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to supply chains

By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

Three Alberta technology companies are partnering to develop warehouses equipped with robots who use artificial intelligence and machine learning to make supply chains more efficient.

Edmonton’s AltaML and Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) are providing research, expertise, and technology to Calgary-based Attabotics, a creator of robotic storage systems for supply chains.

"It's kind of a perfect union of very advanced tech and expertise on the robotic side and machine learning expertise on our side, and being able to really do something special at the intersection of those two things," said Cam Linke, Amii's CEO.

Attabotics's technology uses robots to store and retrieve goods from compact storage structures, which the company said requires 85% less space than traditional warehouses. The goal of the partnership is to optimize the technology by integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Neeraj Gupta, the company's chief strategy officer, said the result will be a "network supply chain," which will use predictive data to further automate the process of storing goods and preparing packages for delivery.

"We are going to impact almost every phase of the supply chain in a positive manner," he said.

AltaML started developing AI software in Edmonton in 2017, and has since opened offices in Calgary and Toronto. Jil Macdonald, managing director of the Calgary office, describes Alberta as an "innovation hub”, which makes partnerships like the one between Amii, Attabotics, and AltaML possible. She said local talent, especially out of the University of Alberta, has been crucial to the business's growth.

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By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • The City of Edmonton has updated its encampment response strategy to "reflect key lessons learned in 2020," it said in a news release. The strategy outlines three types of responses aimed at discouraging the establishment of large encampments.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board voted 6-2 on April 27 to ask for a non-confidence vote on the draft K-6 curriculum at the Alberta School Board Association meeting in June. "We’re saying to the government, go back, fix it, rewrite it and bring it back," said Trustee Bridget Stirling. "It’s not ready for prime time."
  • City council's community and public services committee has voted against reinstating shisha lounges after the businesses were ordered to close last July. There were 45 businesses operating before the ban took effect.
  • A series of fires in and near the river valley were intentionally set over the last few days, reports CTV News. One man has been arrested and charged with arson. Edmonton has had fire restrictions in place since April 16 due to dry conditions.
  • Root 107, part of Downtown Spark, is now open until May 2 at 107 Street and 101 Avenue with mural art, unique seating made from recycled materials, and food trucks. The Downtown Business Association is working on keeping the space open until the fall, reports CTV News.
  • Due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, Alberta Health Services announced on April 27 that up to 30% of scheduled surgeries would be postponed in the Edmonton, Calgary, and North zones. There are 643 people in hospital in Alberta due to COVID-19, with 145 in intensive care.
Can't keep a circus family down: Firefly Theatre prepares for first pandemic show

Can't keep a circus family down: Firefly Theatre prepares for first pandemic show

By Fawnda Mithrush Fawnda Mithrush in the Arts Roundup

Among the more uniquely themed pandemic performance offerings this week comes Firefly Theatre's Bread and Circus — an evening of bread-making and acrobatics, hosted by Firefly's founders, Annie Dugan and John Ullyatt. The name of the event is inspired by the ancient Roman tenet of appeasing unruly public with food and entertainment.

"When unrest was brewing, they would give people bread and circus, and we're sick of all these restrictions, so what do we do? We'll give people bread and circus," says Dugan with a smile.

The pair will be beaming in aerial and contortion artists from around the world to entertain home-bound audiences as they wait for their fougasse dough to rise. Orders have to be in by 3pm on April 29 to get the bread-making kits delivered in time.

As performing families go, Dugan and Ullyatt are among the city's most recognizable. Dugan is often hanging from the rafters at festivals, sports events, and conferences, and the annual theatre season is where Ullyatt shines — your correspondent still gets misty-eyed remembering his performance in Every Brilliant Thing, one of the last shows presented at the Citadel before COVID-19 hit.

"I had a year and a half of work lined up after that and it all disappeared," says Ullyatt, who was rehearsing with Edmonton Opera on Candide when restrictions started to ramp up. "Everything slammed shut. We went to get our makeup and everything from the dressing room and we never performed the show."

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A newspaper clipping from 1972, headlined "Edmonton, Calgary rapid transit coming"

A moment in history: April 29, 1972

By Scott Lilwall Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1972, Alberta’s industry minister was predicting a rapid transit system would soon link Edmonton to Calgary.

Minister Fred Peacock made the comments in the legislature following questions on the future of transportation policy after Edmonton rejected its brazen METS plan, which would have seen a web of freeways built throughout the city.

Peacock said there was no definite timeline for rapid transit between the cities, but that it was “closer than many people think.”

Those words weren’t exactly prophetic. For the past 50 years, a high-speed transit line linking Alberta’s two biggest cities has been sort of like the horizon while driving down the QEII — it is always in view, but never actually gets closer.

The first study into the idea came in 1985, which concluded that the project would be feasible, would benefit the province, and could be run privately with little ongoing public support. A similar report from 2004 estimated between $3 billion and $6 billion in benefits if the cities were linked, noting that the trip would have to take a maximum of two hours to attract the ridership it needed. In 2011, Alison Redford hinted that it could be built using money from the province’s GreenTRIP fund. But by the provincial election next year, the idea wasn’t high up on anyone’s priority list.

Half a dozen feasibility studies have been done over the past 50 years, each triggering a flood of editorials and think-pieces. Each time the idea is floated, it garners just as much opposition as it does support, with critics citing cost, environmental impacts, and greater need to invest in city-based transit.

The latest movement on the idea happened last August, when the Alberta government signed a memorandum of understanding with a Toronto company to examine the idea of a hyperloop system that would launch passengers and freight up to 1,000 km/h, cutting the trip between Edmonton and Calgary to about half an hour. The deal doesn’t commit any funding from the province, but it does represent the latest stop on Alberta’s perpetually imminent high-speed system.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.

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Weekend agenda

By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson and Fawnda Mithrush Fawnda Mithrush

  • The Royal Bison, Edmonton’s one-stop-shop for locally-produced design, crafts, and art, returns April 30-May 2. For this year's online spring fair, items from over 120 vendors are available — more than ever before. The online shop will also ship free to locations across Canada.
  • Burlesque performer Violette Coquette presents Virtual Violette Underground on April 30 with burlesque artists and icons dropping in from around the world. Hosted by LeTabby Lexington and Beau Creep.
  • Although not open to the public, Harcourt House Artist Run Centre is presenting two exhibitions installed in its galleries beginning April 30. The Main Gallery showcases Emerald Queendom, a multimedia installation by Tammy Salzl. The Art Incubator Gallery features From Nothing to All, an exhibition of large-scale pencil drawings by Helis Podnek.
  • Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts (ACUA) and Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre at MacEwan University launched a virtual tour to accompany their year-long Threads That Connect exhibit.
Chris Chang-Yen Phillips smiles at a microphone in front of a popup banner for Let's Find Out

Quiz time: Radio


Test your knowledge with this daily quiz, brought to you by the People's Agenda project:

What radio station does People's Agenda listening session facilitator Chris Chang-Yen Phillips work for?

  1. CBC
  2. CFRN
  3. CHED
  4. CJSR
  5. CKUA

See Friday's issue of The Pulse for the answer.

The answer to the April 28 quiz was a — Edmonton's City Plan, adopted in December 2020, replaced The Way We Grow and The Way We Move.

The next People's Agenda listening session will be on the topic of infrastructure and city-building. Join us online at noon on April 29.

Photo by Mack Male

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