This is my last blog post in this series about the extraordinary response efforts of Canadian Microsoft partners in 2020, and in this, I focus on government. Microsoft partners assisted government agencies at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels in incredible ways this year. I’m happy and proud to share some of their stories. You can also read my recent posts about partner efforts in healthcare, education, and  telecommunications.  


I profiled BlackBerry AtHoc solution in my telecommunications post but feel compelled to give it a second mention here, as this crisis management solution was adopted by multiple government agencies to coordinate and deploy their response efforts, such as: 

  • Secure communications sent on an hourly or daily basis  
  • Number of messages sent  
  • Consistent messaging  
  • Personnel accountability  
  • Personnel safety  
  • Reliable uptime/minimal downtime  

BlackBerry made AtHoc available to organizations for 60-day free usage. The company also put out informational content about crisis communication during a pandemic. You can read more about their efforts on their blog

Citizen Care Pod by PCL, Insight & others

One of the best-known names in construction, PCL is a group of independent construction companies owned by employee stakeholders across Canada, the United States, and Australia. With roots that date back to 1906 Saskatchewan, PCL has a long and storied history of innovation and business success in the construction industry.  

PCL felt compelled to help lead innovative response efforts. Led by Citizen Care Pods Corporation, they collaborated with industry leaders and government stakeholders to deliver a smart screening and testing pod that went from concept to completion in two weeks using optimized modular construction. 

PCL joined fellow partner Insight as well as WZMH Architects,  Camillion Entertainment, Microsoft, and other industry leaders (see the full list below) to build a safe, portable, and accessible virus testing solution called the Citizen Care Pod. Designed to distance testers from the people getting tested, these smart screening and testing pods provide a safer, more cost-effective solution for agencies worldwide. 

The ingenious Citizen Care Pod solution retrofits sea containers with minimal infrastructure requirements, only needing Internet access and a power connection for air conditioning and electric heating.

Per the rendering above, the Citizen Care Pod containers feature up to four testing stations per unit.  These pods responsibly leverage diverse technologies, including Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, to securely monitor and estimate patient volumes as well as to advise on safety compliance practices.

If the Citizen Care Pod detects more than three or four medical staff in a container, it will remind them to observe physical distance requirements!

Inside the Citizen Care Pod, PCL’s Job Site Insights™  platform uses Azure Internet of Things to monitor climate conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and humidity, and to provide notification if thresholds get exceeded.   PCL manufactured the first CSA® certified Citizen Care Pod prototypes in Alberta and Ontario, allowing testing and triage outside hospitals, office buildings, as well as sporting venues and other public spaces.   

The Citizen Care Pod is a powerful demonstration of Canadian technical ingenuity and practicality, not to mention the leadership and heart of PCL and other partners. What an amazing project!  Amazing! You can watch a brief video about the project on YouTube here: 

Here’s the complete list of organizations who contributed: 

Architectural: Parkin Architect,  WZMH ARCHITECTS   

Engineering: Quasar Consulting Group,Loring,Stephenson Engineering   

Technology: Microsoft,  TrakIT,GOJO,Bosch,Dell Technologies,Insight,PCL,,Baka   


Over its 30-year business journey, Descartes has emerged as a global leader in uniting businesses in commerce. From its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, the company provides cloud-based logistics and supply chain solutions to over 20,000 customers, including government agencies and non-profits. 

As a global partner, Descartes collaborated with Microsoft to help customers adapt to the sudden change in logistics and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. The Descartes MacroPoint™ real-time visibility solution leverages Azure and Azure SQL Database to empower organizations to act swiftly and with confidence. They put this and their other technologies to use to help several major organizations respond: 

What an impact! This collaboration clearly empowered major organizations to help and serve millions of people when they need it the most. 

PointClickCare & ThoughtWire

From start-up to market leader, PointClickCare’s innovative cloud-based technology is advancing the senior care industry and making a true impact on people’s lives. Recently named one of Deloitte’s fastest growing technology companies and Canada’s best managed companies,  PointClickCare was recognized with fellow partner ThoughtWire as recipients of the 2020 Microsoft Health Innovation Awards

ThoughtWire and PointClickCare received the Microsoft Health Innovation Award for Empowering Care Teams for their development of LTC eConnect, a solution to help clinicians and care teams provide complex care in long-term care facilities. Built on Azure, LTC eConnect streamlines how clinicians access patient information. It connects critical information sources and applies robotic process automation and augmented intelligence to create a single source of truth for patient information. 

For its part, ThoughtWire is on a mission to bring the built environment to life. By orchestrating data from people, process, and the physical built environment, ThoughtWire’s Digital Twin™ environment delivers smarter, safer, and more efficient hospitals, commercial buildings, and cities. Expect governments around the world to embrace ThoughtWire “smart” solutions in the years ahead as we evolve our infrastructure to help better protect the health and safety of our communities. 


After learning and writing about the extraordinary response efforts of partners from coast to coast and across industries, I hope you come away feeling like I do: proud to be a Canadian and part of the Microsoft universe of partners. I take great comfort knowing so many brilliant technical and business minds have collaborated to help us all. 

As I conclude this post and this series, I want to thank you, the reader, for coming on this amazing journey with me and sincerely apologize in advance to any partner with a unique response effort that I inadvertently failed to mention so far. Please feel free to connect and share your feedback with me on LinkedIn.