IT Services Microsoft

COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing for your Business

COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing for your Business

covid19 digital contact tracing

Why Canadian Businesses Need the Corona Virus Digital Tracing Tool

As provinces in Canada are being hit with a second wave of the Coronavirus, Canadian business employers are required to screen their workers for COVID-19 symptoms before they are allowed entry into the facilities.

A mandatory COVID-19 screening tool is implemented in various governments in Canada. The questionnaire aims to know if a person has COVID-19 symptoms. It also includes contact tracing or asking if the worker has had contact with anyone who has been confirmed to be positive or is possible to have COVID-19, or who has traveled outside Canada in the past 14 days.

Those who checked “Yes” to at least one question are required to self-isolate and contact their health care providers to be tested for COVID-19.

Through the screening tool, various government offices aim to boost public health protection to prevent further lockdowns as well as establish consistency in terms of COVID-19 guidelines. The screening must be conducted every day for staff, students, contractors and volunteers who enter the workplace facility. Other visitors including delivery and maintenance staff are also required to be screened before they arrive.

Implementation of the COVID-19 Screening Tool

To implement the coronavirus screening tool, employers can choose to implement screening at the entrance of the work facility before the employee enters the building. They could also fill out an online questionnaire a day before coming to work.

Here are the ways Canadian businesses can implement COVID-19 screening tool on their employees:

  • Digital tracing – This keeps track of all the survey forms easily. It is also the most environment-friendly method, as it does not require consumption of papers for answering.
  • Interview survey – Although this is much easier to implement as you just ask the staff questions when they enter the building, it poses privacy concerns for employees as other people could easily hear their answers.
  • Paper survey – A paper trail is easy to keep track of. However, it can also pose privacy issues as there is a risk of other people reading the answers. It could also take time to automate and streamline the survey questionnaires.

Why Digital Tracing is Recommended

Out of the three screening tools for COVID-19, digital tracing is the most secure and recommended method. Below are some of the advantages of this contact tracing method:

  1. It has the ability to ensure data privacy and security. This is essential, as the public needs to know that their sensitive information will not be leaked to other people.
  2. It has the operational capacity to receive important info from the public health authorities such as provincial or city public health departments, and other health authority agencies.
  3. It can allow identification and documentation of the contacts of clients with COVID-19 either through inputs from public health authorities or through reporting from the users.
  4. It has the capability to give alerts to clients and contacts regarding their exposure and the time window when exposure may have taken place. This may be automated or done manually and can be sent through emails, voice messages and SMS.
  5. It can conduct surveys regarding the symptoms of those with COVID-19 and can relay instructions on how to monitor their symptoms, as well as gather reports about critical information every day. The data gathered will then be relayed to the contact tracing team at public health authorities.
  6. It can send messages of self-quarantine, social distancing and other safety protocols to contacts that have been identified with COVID-19. It can also relay important health measures from the government.
  7. Follow-ups and requests for information can be automated by the system to identified contacts.
  8. It has the ability to generate and view individual and collective contact tracing reports.


Accuracy is critical in today’s struggle to defeat the world pandemic crisis. The health and security of a company’s workers should be a top priority which is why government officials are highly recommending the installation of each organization’s own digital contact tracing management system. If you are a Canadian employer and you need help in setting up your COVID-19 screening tool, contact us and get a free consultation!



How to achieve 25% more efficiency with Microsoft Planner

How to achieve 25% more efficiency with Microsoft Planner

Microsoft planner

An average employee receives 124 emails per day (that’s about 620 emails per week) but only 40 of those are for business communication that need an urgent response. It means at least 2.5 hours is spent sorting through email – adding up to a 25% loss in productivity.

The goal of Microsoft Teams is to reduce e-mails and empower your employees to do work faster – and Microsoft Planner is a highly recommended add-on for Teams; and works as a standalone app in Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Planner is a simple yet powerful project management tool that features a Kanban-style, card-based interface. This is a centralized hub that can ‘take chaos out of teamwork and get more done’. Project management and team collaboration has never been this easy. Let’s take a closer look at how your organization can benefit from this handy, lightweight O365 application.

What MS Planner Can Do for You

  1. Project organization that can be categorized by campaign type, assigned department, priority level, etc.
  2. Customizable user interface with options such as progress report charts, drag and drop updates, picture view/calendar view, pinned favorites, etc.
  3. Availability of supplemental information such as meeting notes, images, links, attached files, comments, flags, etc.
  4. Guest access to projects and campaigns for users that belong to another department or outside the organization
  5. Cross-device integration and support with iOS and Android systems

How to Use MS Planner

  1. Log in your O365 account details through your device or directly on the browser and access Planner.
  2. The Planner Hub is blank by default. To start a plan, click ‘New Plan’ button on the left sidebar of the main menu. Give it a title and choose a privacy setting (public or private).
  3. When the new task panel pops up, enter the following details: task name, due date, users assigned. Click ‘Add Task’ button to create the task.
  4. Use options to add information about the task – priority level, project status, attachments, checklists, etc. which can be color-coded for easy labeling.
  5. The ‘Add Task’ window will remain active on your screen unless you close it. This makes it easy to add various tasks in quick succession. If you click “X” at the top-right corner, it will instantly disappear and automatically save all changes.

Buckets: An Organized To-Do List

Buckets allow you to sort tasks in an organized manner. This lets you create cards assigned to specific users that can be grabbed at will by any team member. Customize buckets to suit project or team requirements and arrange them in columns so it is easier to view them and manage tasks all at once.

Labels: Visual Cue for Task Cards

This color-coding system is a neat little trick to group each task depending on your preferred category system. There are six colored labels you can use to indicate priority level, project theme, assigned user, deadlines, etc.

A Checklist within a Checklist

For super-methodical folks, you’ll love the concept of the MS Planner Checklist where you can create a checklist inside a task. You and your team members can follow up on project milestones, check off/remove completed items, and even leave notes/ask questions/request clarification on task descriptions.

‘Boards’ View vs. ‘Schedule’ View vs. ‘Charts’ View

Board’ view refers to the main task tab.

Schedule’ view allows users to:

  1. Organize tasks on calendar
  2. Have better understanding of project status
  3. Use drag and drop button for scheduling upcoming weekly and monthly tasks

Charts’ view, on the other hand, provides a visual breakdown of existing tasks. Team leaders and project managers can stay on top of requirements and deadlines by using this ‘at a glance’ analytical representation of all project progress.

  1. It shows what projects are classified urgent, how each bucket is doing, which tasks are running late, or who’s overloaded
  2. Each color refers to a status – completed tasks are marked green, late tasks are marked red, tasks in progress are marked blue, and tasks not yet started are marked grey

Filter’ and ‘Group By’ Options

These two options – ‘filter’ and ‘group by’ enables you to sit tight on timelines and keep all team members accountable. Play around with these options if you want to manage task groupings, visualize upcoming projects, reallocate resources, and increase/decrease workload to assigned users.

Reduce e-mails and access management with MS Planner

With MS Planner, you can send an email to everyone on the group or just to specific team members. You can customize who has access to files, conversations, notebooks, and all things associated with the project.

This allows team members to work and collaborate on tasks, store/share files, and stay up to date on changes/developments without needing to open a separate tab in Outlook. This level of integration ensures that the entire team is instantly notified of anything and everything that is pertinent to the project – a simple way to minimize time spent on checking up on individual emails.

MS Teams Integration

  1. In your MS Teams Tab, click on + button and choose Planner tab.
  2. You will be taken to a new window where you can select between: 1) Create a New Plan; or, 2) Use an Existing Plan From This Team.
  3. MS Planner application is now available as an additional tab which can be displayed as Boards, Charts, or Schedule view.

Enterprise and Global Availability

MS Planner is rigorously designed to meet the requirements of any business enterprise around the world. It has compliance with ISO27001, HIPAA, FISMA, and EU Model while other impressive technical features include virtual instantaneous recovery and multiple redundant backup systems.

How can I start using Microsoft Planner?

What is Best about MS Planner is that it’s already part of your Microsoft 365 subscription.

If you don’t have Microsoft 365 yet, or if you need further help, training, and enablement for your employees, coworkers, or even just your team, schedule a free consultation with us and get started today:

Visit for other Microsoft 365 related services.

IT Services Microsoft

Worried about Unsecured Web Calls? Why you should move to using Microsoft Teams

Worried about Unsecured Web Calls? Why you should move to using Microsoft Teams


Avoid hackers and nosy interceptors invading your private communications. Especially, if your job involves handling sensitive company information or customers’ personal data, using a secure web calling app is critical.

Avoid Getting ‘Zoom-bombed’

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a surge for work-from-home video calls, Zoom was one of the top web conferencing app options. The platform gained instant popularity – but not in a good way due to a serious security issue dubbed as ‘Zoom-bombing’. Taking advantage of Zoom’s lack of security, digital trolls employed a variety of different malicious tactics including hijacking or blocking shared screens, removing attendees from virtual meetings, spoofing messages from users, or broadcasting offensive video materials right in the middle of work-related or school-related discussions.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan acknowledged that they have failed to meet the expectations of the online community and even issued an apology via Youtube live streaming. Security experts and privacy advocates remain concerned that Zoom seems to continue operating under a rather relaxed approach towards securing video calls for its growing number of users worldwide.

According to The Citizen Lab, “Zoom’s weaknesses make it highly unsuitable for government agencies and businesses worried about espionage.” American journalist and columnist Doc Searls thinks that Zoom ‘needs to clean up its privacy act’ while Bruce Schneier, computer security professional, is concerned that Zoom’s security is “at best sloppy, and malicious at worst”.

Zoom’s lax security protocols gave rise to an FBI investigation even in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Zoom has fixed the front-end issues by allowing users to set the privacy settings and requiring to manually admit participants in. However, they still don’t have end to end encryption. According to Zoom, they have acquired Keybase to work on the end to end encryption. They said it will be available in the near future.

How does it impact me as a user of a web calling app that doesn’t have end to end encryption?

If the app is not end to end encrypted, it means that while data may be encrypted and protected while in transit an on all end devices, the data is not encrypted on the servers

  1. Employees of the company who have access to the servers can view your data or webcall conversation because it is not encrypted
  2. When hackers successfully hack into the servers, they can get the data or your webcall conversation as is (without encryption). Zoom has been recently hacked. The hackers released around 500,000 user credentials
  3. If the company gets subpoenaed, the records will be released unencrypted.

There are may alternative apps that emerged , but most of them are also not end to end encrypted.For example, Google Hangouts admitted that it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption which means Google can completely access your messages and conversation once they’re on a Google server. Slack users, on the other hand, have been cautioned about linking the cloud-based team collaboration software platform to third-party apps in light of the accidental data exposure of sensitive government information to outsiders for at least five months. Unlike other fully encrypted video calling apps, Slack is only protected by HTTPS which means private data can also be intercepted at the server.

Why Microsoft Teams is the most recommended app

For any business where security matters (e.g. Law Firms, Counselling Services, Education, Government, Financial Institutions), Microsoft teams is recommended .

According to Professor Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University, it really isn’t that much of a big deal if an uninvited guest is listening to your private conversation with your mom but in the case of businesses and public offices, the implications may be life changing. “In the case where I have taken part in government briefings, it is crucial to ensure that it is for the participants’ ears only – so we have used Microsoft Teams.”

Why is that? First, Teams naturally inherits all the associated Office 365 security features of all Microsoft products. Second, it ensures fully encrypted data both in transit and while at rest. This means it doesn’t have the issues mentioned above. Third, its added multi factor authentication (MFA) feature ensures that the organization is not vulnerable to data breach in the event that specific user personal data falls into the wrong hands.

While the decision to choose a conferencing platform depends on your organizational structure or situation, it makes logical sense to fully rely on Microsoft Teams; especially if you are already utilizing Office 365. However, if you’re in the business of dealing with sensitive information on a regular basis, Microsoft Teams is your best choice for fully encrypted video calling, messaging, and collaboration platform.

Microsoft 365 Advanced eDiscovery (AED): Smart Capability for Attorney-Client Privileged Communications

For attorneys, one of the ethical obligations is to keep clients’ data safe and private. Advanced eDiscovery is a smart tag feature that locates and identifies attorney-client privileged content. This Ai-enabled Microsoft 365 feature allows lawyers and legal practitioners to search, identify, and tag information and files that are classified as potentially privileged documents.

Furthermore, AED is a powerful software tool for digital evidence gathering which can minimize time and costs spent by a legal team for this critical task. Specifically, it is useful for carrying out the following tasks:

  1. For gathering, assembly, and grouping of similar data and information for analysis or review by specific user groups
  2. For fast-tracking information gathering and collating from large datasets or sources
  3. For identifying relevant or irrelevant files and documents
  4. For reviewing and exporting filtered information into a report format for submission to regulatory, legal, or government body
  5. For automating costs associated with research, review, and compilation of documents

Get More Out of Teams

If you want to learn more about the Teams dynamic security to automatically protect data and documents from digital breaches, contact us for a FREE consultation today.