York U, IBM Canada announce Canada’s first academic-industry partnership in disaster and emergency management

TORONTO, February 22, 2017 – Flooding, hurricanes, global warming and terrorism are all disasters and emergencies that can be effectively managed – and in some cases mitigated – through good planning and response. York University is the first in Canada to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in emergency management, and now thanks to a new partnership with IBM Canada, York’s program will incorporate world-leading technology and tools.

IBM Canada is awarding a $1.8-million in-kind gift to accelerate the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation (ADERSIM), a cloud-enabled platform housed at York University that enhances disaster and emergency planning through leading-edge modelling and simulation technology.

The new Master of Disaster & Emergency Management (MDEM) is the only graduate program of its kind in Ontario and one of only two in Canada.

As the first academic-industry partnership in Canada to address disaster and emergency management at scale, ADERSIM uses IBM’s deep analytics capabilities coupled with York’s big data  and interdisciplinary research expertise to meet Canada’s current and future demands in emergency management and public safety.

“York University and IBM share a common goal to advance state-of-the-art disaster management systems,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “This gift marks the beginning of an extraordinary collaboration to build an emergency management ecosystem of startups, government agencies, emergency responders and community organizations working to develop greater, more accurate solutions in disaster and emergency preparedness and mitigation.”

IBM’s support includes a $1.4 million contribution in cloud credits to support ADERSIM’s research team and community partners. The credits provide crucial access to the latest in cloud technologies to accelerate the development of applications that support simulating disaster risk and planning operations. The gift also includes a $400,000 discount on the IBM Cognitive Cities capabilities that form the building blocks of ADERSIM.

“IBM has a long history of supporting innovation in Canada, especially around research and development,” said Pat Horgan, vice-president, manufacturing, development and operations, IBM Canada. “Today’s announcement with York University is a direct result of this kind of innovation. ADERSIM is a big step towards drastically improving disaster and emergency planning in a way that could impact the safety of all Canadians. This is a significant initiative, and we are proud to be part of it.”

IBM’s gift is part of a $5 million multi-partner investment. Other funding partners include: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), and York University. The innovative partnership aims to expand and grow ADERSIM’s disaster and emergency management portfolio.

The ADERSIM program will equip approximately 80 trainees with strong theoretical and professional skills in information searching, data mining and knowledge management.

Last year, York University launched “Impact: The Campaign for York University”, a $500-million fundraising and alumni engagement initiative. The campaign aims to mobilize new ways of thinking, including investing in the bright minds that drive innovation, as well as to build stronger communities, which will enrich learning and research throughout York’s local and global networks. ADERSIM directly supports these priorities.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario’s Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

IBM is one of Canada’s top ten private R&D investors, and in 2015 contributed more than $477 million to Canadian research activities. IBM has a unique approach to collaboration that provides academic researchers, small and large business, start-ups and developers with business strategies and computing tools they need to innovate. Areas of focus include health, agile computing, water, energy, cities, mining, advanced manufacturing, digital media and cybersecurity. IBM and its partners have in the past three years helped create more than 240 high-value jobs and launch more than three dozen new businesses. Please visit: http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ca/en/canadian-innovation.html.

Media contacts:
Gloria Suhasini, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 ext. 22094, suhasini@yorku.ca

Lorraine Baldwin, External Communications, IBM Canada Ltd., 778-327-7271, lorraine@ca.ibm.com