Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: Nav Canada steers airlines towards next-gen GPS (Sept. 29)

As a pilot of a small plane who has approximately $15,000 already tied up in GPS equipment, I strongly resent the movement

to the new system. It provides me with less accuracy and requires me to spend considerably more money to get it. I agree with the final line of your article – the people who will benefit from this are the avionics manufacturers. Most of these are American, with strong lobby power in the States.

Michael Miles

Re: Nav Canada steers airlines towards next-gen GPS (Sept. 29)

I am very surprised to see the West Coast, specifically the Rockies, omitted as a WAAS-enhanced region for the very reason cited in your article:

“”But Michael Stewart, owner of Business Wings, an aviation management company that’s a tenant at the Toronto island airport, said the WAAS system is aimed at planes flying over mountainous terrain like certain parts of Greenland that are surrounded by canyons.””

Although Vancouver, B.C., is Category III ILS-equipped, that system provides guidance only 25 miles from the runway. A WAAS system would provide reliable vertical information much farther out. As well it would provide a valuable backup in the event of ILS failure in a highly fog-prone region. ILS has been around for a long time, but I would hesitate to call it “”bullet proof.”” While ILS is specified to have a probability of failure of 1 in 2,000,000,000 there have been a number of controlled flights into terrain (CFIT) because an aircrew failed to note an inoperative or unreliable glide slope signal indication. Reliable GPS-generated vertical information would provide pilots with an ILS cross-check.

While not mentioned in your article, I wonder if discussions to include GPS/TCAS systems are underway? A GPS-based Traffic Collision Avoidance System is provided when the GPS is transmitter-equipped, broadcasting its own position to other similarly equipped GPS units in the area. This would be a major boon in congested airspace, relieving some of the pressure from heavily tasked air traffic controllers.

CFIT’s continue to occur and while in-flight commercial transport collisions are rare, runway intersection collisions happen far too often. GPS-based TCAS would be as useful on the ground as in the air.

Stan Nowak
Plant Engineer
Guertin Bros. Coatings & Sealants Ltd.

Re: Small enterprises ignore e-commerce group’s call (Sept. 22)

As a small business owner and veteran e-commerce retailer I read with interest your story.

We established our e-commerce store over seven years ago and we are still waiting for the Canadian consumer to seriously begin to shop on line. We are VERY pleased with our sales results from everywhere else in the world except Canada.

We offer Canadian customers benefits not offered to our international customers, including free shipping on orders over $15.00 along with a number of exclusively Canadian offerings. We purchase paid advertising in our local Ottawa market, we promote wherever and whenever we can and we have just entered into a partnership with Scotiabank Visa for a nationwide promotion effort (ScotiaStar).

In spite of this effort Canada sales remain well behind places like the U.K., Japan and of course the U.S. We don’t promote in any other country.

Our typical sales experience with a Canadian shopper finds that while the shopper has plenty of questions about the buying process, the “”security”” of the Internet and many other topics, solid answers still tend to not produce a sale.

Meanwhile other international customers are keen to give us a chance to prove our service claims with orders with a minimum, if any, questions. Their first orders tend to be small. A test to see if and how we perform. If we pass the test the international customer returns and becomes a bigger and better customer and tells their family and friends.

I believe that the media has a big role to play in making and keeping Canadians out of the B to C (business to consumer) marketplace. Stories of e-commerce risks, credit card theft and risk of losing money continue to appear in the media. Most of these stories are all old and most have been proven inaccurate or outright incorrect.

I believe that should the government wish to get more SMEs on board they might devote some energy and money into debunking the negative stories out there and assist work to educate the consumer of the safe and secure advantages of buying on-line.

Doug McKeen
McKeen Productions Ltd.

Re: Small enterprises ignore e-commerce group’s call (Sept. 22)

As someone who has quit his day job with larger corporations and is now involved with two small Ontario enterprises ( I prefer to call them microBusiness), the key reason for not adopting e-commerce solutions is simply because the suppliers of the e-commerce solutions:

1) Typically price their product beyond my budget.

2) Do not see themselves involved in my business (i.e. their job ends when they collect their cheque, whether or not any revenue has been generated using their services). Anyone can set up a service to set up on-line stores, but it is a real challenge to generate traffic to those stores so that the store keepers generate revenue.

3) Seem to more interested in the “”kewlness”” of their software product than in the usefulness of the functionality to me.

In summary, any provider of any e-commerce solution has to have my microBusiness as part of their equations, or I’m just not interested.

W. Hugh Chatfield
CyberSpace Industries 2000 Inc.

Re: Small enterprises ignore e-commerce group’s call (Sept. 22)

“”Canadian SMEs tend to be more risk-averse than their counterparts elsewhere,”” said Ron McClean, executive director of Information Services and Technology in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “”You couple that with perhaps being two years behind on the adoption curve of the United States, for example, (and) with the dot-bomb, and they’re sort of behind the eight-ball. They’re just naturally reluctant to take this kind of thing on.””

We don’t see a shred of evidence for that conclusion. It’s just that U.S. government and especially the Congress have a set of proactive measures to facilitate SMEs’ participation in the new economy. In contrast, Canadian government’s policies and practices are very hostile to the development of vibrant Internet commerce in this country (which, by the way, almost entirely consists of SMEs). The long-term results are by now quite self evident.

Also, I would not place much hope into the new federal government’s Minister of Industry. Mr. Emerson clearly represents old natural resources/commodities economy that is being supported (and milked to the edge) by the Canadian Government to the exclusion of anything else. Hence, similarly to all his predecessors, he is quite unlikely to come up with any solutions that would introduce a new SME-centric industrial vision for the country. Such novel vision is absolutely required to facilitate the new economic opportunities in Canada, linked to the proliferation and domination of international e-commerce.

As a result, Canada clearly misses this boat. We do not have new Yahoos and Amazons that dominate global e-commerce and our international standing among e-commerce-developed nations does not correspond to our economic ranking in the world.

Mr. Walsh is absolutely right that “”it is not for CeBI to take the lead on this.”” However, for the last 10 years, we do not have any leadership in this country that understands the strategic implications of this issue or would be willing to address it as a national priority, especially in the environment of near collapse of the Canadian high-tech economy.

Nahum Goldmann
ARRAY Development
and School of Management, University of Ottawa

Re: U of T researcher develops do-it-yourself health portal (Sept. 21)

I would like to draw your attention to a similar patient oriented project that we completed at Dalhousie University and the local Capital District Health Authorities Halifax Infirmary (QE-II) hospital. Our project provided a Web-based virtual “”e-clinic”” that allowed patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) to access their local specialty clinic securely via the Internet. We utilized 128-bit SSL technology, click through consent/waiver forms along with software platform built-in audit logs to monitor activity, etc.

By providing pertinent education, secure communications platform, self-help and follow-up opportunities remotely we demonstrated an improvement in quality of life scores, knowledge scores and general satisfaction of patients that participated in this technology version of routine clinical care.

We have had patients between 16 to 72 years of age participate and provide feedback. We have noted examples of patient’s supporting each other in the discussion forums.

John L. Ginn M.D.
Lecturer and Consultant-Health Informatics
Dalhousie University

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