The Pulse: May 19, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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Essentials

  • 6°C: Wet snow ending in the morning then mainly cloudy with 30% chance of rain showers. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High 6. (forecast)
  • 7pm: The Oilers take on the Jets in Game 1 of the playoffs tonight. (details)
  • 50%: More than half of Albertans aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (details)

Synthetic data project attracts multinational corporation to Alberta

Synthetic data project attracts multinational corporation to Alberta


By Hiba Kamal-Choufi Hiba Kamal-Choufi in the Health Innovation Roundup

A project aiming to demonstrate how synthetic data can be useful for the healthcare industry has gained a new partner in Merck Canada, a Quebec-based pharmaceutical company.

Health City and its partners have been working on the Synthetic Data project since last fall — which it says is the first of its kind in Canada. Merck Canada's engagement also marks the first time a multinational corporation has invested in a synthetic data project in Alberta.

Synthetic data is information that is artificially generated using algorithms. Synthetic databases don't use real patient health information, which Health City CEO Reg Joseph said is important because these databases can be shared freely among innovators and researchers without raising patient privacy concerns.

"Before we engaged the project with Merck Canada, we actually launched an academic version of the project. We were able to demonstrate that we could create a synthetic database, prove that it's useful and that the data was safe," Joseph told Taproot.

"Positioning Edmonton as sort of the first mover on this is interesting because it lends itself now towards more industrial relationships in the health sector if we can be one of the first jurisdictions to demonstrate how to use data safely in this kind of environment."

The project is a collaboration between Health City, the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, the Insitute of Health Economics (IHE), Alberta Innovates, and Replica Analytics.

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Headlines


By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • Hundreds of Edmontonians gathered in the rain in front of the Legislature on Tuesday night for another pro-Palestinian rally. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues in the Middle East, despite calls for a ceasefire from international leaders.
  • The city has decreased fatalities on Edmonton streets by 63% and serious injuries by 40% since 2015, according to the 2020 Vision Zero Annual Report released on Tuesday. This year's report looks back on the last five years of the city's actions to improve road safety.
  • The release of a new interactive map that breaks down provincial vaccine data by neighbourhood has sparked criticism over unequal distribution in the city's lower income areas, such as Abbottsfield, reports the CTV News.
  • The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has sold $30 million worth of 50/50 tickets so far this year — with half that amount benefiting various Alberta charities and community groups. The first couple playoff games will raise money for 40 hospital foundations across northern Alberta, reports Global News.
  • Mayor Don Iveson has entered into a friendly playoff wager with the mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman. If Edmonton wins the playoff series against the Jets, Bowman will donate $200 to the Edmonton Food Bank and post a picture in an Oilers jersey (and vice-versa).
  • Edmonton International Airport and Air Canada signed a partnership to reduce the carbon impact of air travel. The organizations will test emerging green technologies at EIA's Airport City Sustainability Campus. EIA is the first and only airport in the world to sign the Climate Pledge.
  • Students and teachers are set to return to the classroom next week. On Tuesday, chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the decision to move to online learning was an operational one, due to staffing issues. "Schools have been in this last year one of the safest places for children to be," she said.
  • A former Edmonton police officer and current chief of Calgary police was named the new president of Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police last week. Mark Neufeld, who served the Edmonton Police Service from 1993 to 2016, takes over the role from Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee.
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'Vitally important' regional air travel network expanding as B.C. airline announces new and reinstated flights

'Vitally important' regional air travel network expanding as B.C. airline announces new and reinstated flights


By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring in the Regional Roundup

British Columbia-based airline Central Mountain Air (CMA) has announced new regional flights out of Edmonton International Airport (EIA) starting June 28. Some of its flights that were suspended during the pandemic are also set to return.

"Central Mountain Air sees (EIA) as a critical part of its network and, much like our hub in (the Prince George Airport), as a gateway to the northern communities we have served for so many years," CMA's head of commercial Michael Claeren told Taproot in an emailed statement.

A non-stop flight to High Level will be reinstated, while a new direct route to Fort St. John, B.C. that was originally planned to launch before the pandemic will be available three times per week. The airline will also be flying directly to Grande Prairie eight times per week — a route Claeren said is currently flown by WestJet, but every one of those flights has been cancelled so far in 2021.

Myron Keehn, EIA's vice president of air service and business development, said that even though the new flights may not seem like a particularly exciting announcement, expanding the service of regional carriers like CMA will be "vitally important" to customers, the EIA's business, and to the economic recovery of the Edmonton region as it gets safer to travel.

"There is a lot of business that happens between these communities," he said. "That activity becomes way easier — being able to fly here in 45 minutes rather than drive six hours from Grande Prairie or eight hours from High Level."

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A graphic reading "Help send a kid with special needs to camp this summer!" with the logo for AdaptAbilities: Creating Success for Life"

Quiz time: Headquarters

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Where is the AdaptAbilities head office located?

  1. 124th Street
  2. Downtown
  3. Jasper Place
  4. McKernan
  5. Old Strathcona

See answer below.

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Quiz answer: e — Old Strathcona is the home of the AdaptAbilities head office.