Canadian governments are dragging their feet in deploying forecasting solutions, says software firm CEO

Ontario-based software development firm Scarsin has developed an advanced platform with the aim of helping government and healthcare policymakers forecast complex scenarios related to COVID-19.

Dubbed Integrated Insight Environment (i2e), it’s an enterprise-class forecasting platform delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) with an end-to-end solution, meaning it goes all the way from data integration through the model development design, scales on a global basis and then deploys forecasting models and solutions around the world. Paul Minshull, chief executive officer of Scarsin, told IT World Canada in an interview that the company is focused on building a SIER (Susceptible – Exposed – Infectious – Recovered) model.

Paul Minshull, chief executive officer of Scarsin.

“We took a style of a model that people do in pandemics, and we supercharged it based on our experience. So we took all the things we knew healthcare decision-makers would have access to and engineered that into the solution. And what makes us so complicated is that we have over 80 different inputs that are being managed on a daily basis for the next year to generate the assumptions,” Minshull explained.

Some of the forecasting goals, according to the company, include increased diagnostic and predictive insights, improved collaboration, increased planning time horizon, improved forecasting scenario capabilities, and a better understanding of how to mitigate risk.

Scarsin is currently working with a large Ontario municipality, the name of which Minshull said he can’t reveal, to help predict and plan for a number of scenarios including reopening schools, fall flu season, wave two and more.

Photo from Scarsin’s live demo

“Getting the data together and deploying forward-looking capabilities are among the big successes that the company has had,” said Minshull. “It behooves each one of us at Scarsin to think why the governments aren’t moving faster on deploying enterprise technology in this area because it’s, in our opinion, the most important thing to manage risk for Canada going forward.”

Healthcare systems across Canada can use the Scarsin platform to generate forecasts to prepare and develop contingency plans to handle increases in COVID-19 cases as flu season, school and workplace reopenings lay ahead, according to Scarsin.

“We specialize in doing disease modelling and I think we’re a little bit early in seeing what is coming in terms of COVID risk. We shut our company home probably earlier than most in March and assembled a team of experts to start working on engineering what we now call the best practice solution through the platform that we have,” said Minshull. “Lucky enough, we have a PhD mathematician with a specialty in pandemics on our team which made things much better for us.”

The i2e platform has the Microsoft BI stack underneath the SQL server and Minshull says that Microsoft Office is hosted inside of the company’s system in a very innovative way which allows them to do a lot of things in a very user-friendly manner.

“I think the thing that differentiates it from what’s in the market is this end-to-end coverage in one technology and the fact that all of the different components are engineered with a vision that you don’t have enough programming skills to execute. Our platform automates SQL server integration services (SSIS), and the good example there is, we sat down and we took all of the public data across Canada and we had that up and running in about four days and we stood up the national solution in 12 weeks. We’re incredibly agile at getting data together,” he said. 

He adds that the company had applied for all the government funding programs but they never heard back from the government. Scarsin has invested nearly $800,000 into this solution so far.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare beautiful, healthy and delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494.

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