York U, IBM Canada partner to enhance emergency management degree programs


Students enrolled in York’s emergency management programs will have access to world-leading technology and tools, thanks to a new partnership between York University and IBM Canada.

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 modeling and simulation technology.

Scenes from the 2013 earthquake in the PhilippinesAs 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 is the first in Canada to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in emergency management, equipping students with the tools to manage, and in some cases mitigate, emergencies such as flooding, hurricanes, global warming and terrorism.

“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.