Making the cloud a success
Canada Recklessly Exits Covid
Canada Recklessly Exits Covid 150 150 CloudGovCo

May 22 — Canada is exiting Covid without a clear sense of direction, according to the CBC today. “Canada is emerging from months of lockdown, but key questions remain unanswered about where Canadians are getting infected with COVID-19 and why case levels remain high in our hardest-hit provinces.”

Although testing and contact tracing are essential, the Toronto Star reports ” the provinces and territories combined are testing fewer than 30,000 Canadians every day — less than half the available testing capacity that chief public health officer Theresa Tam has said should be the target.”

This week May 20 I said Canada, USA and UK “were forced into a mitigation strategy because their initial response was weak and slow. Now they are united in easing out of lockdown before testing and contact tracing are fully in place, and they risk a long and painful recovery.”

Writing in Project Syndicate, Robert Skidelsky says these and like countries are unofficially following herd immunity in order to “save the economy”.,

“Doing this, however, lifts the cap on non-exposure gained from the lockdown. That is why no government has an explicit exit strategy: what political leaders call the “controlled easing” of lockdowns actually means controlled progress toward herd immunity. Governments cannot openly avow this, because that would amount to admitting that herd immunity is the objective. And it is not yet even known whether and for how long infection confers immunity. Much better, then, to pursue this goal silently, under a cloud of obfuscation, and hope that a vaccine arrives before most of the population is infected.”

The problem with this is that herd immunity requires somewhere between 60 and 80% of the population to get Covid, According to John Hopkins University this morning, Canada has reported 82,750 confirmed cases. These are people who presented to a medical service.

With a population of 37.59 million, these confirmed cases are only 0.0022%. So you can see why organic herd immunity is magical thinking. The only way polio and (almost) smallpox were beaten was with vast vaccination programs.

Apple-Google Covid Contact App
Apple-Google Covid Contact App 150 150 CloudGovCo

May 20 —  Apple and Google jointly announced their API specification for a contact tracing app for #Covid, Unlike numerous apps already developed by various governments, the Apple-Google notification API incorporates privacy by design. The API works on IoS and Android smart phones and is only available;e through apps developed for public health authorities.

Apps using the API will rely on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded a compliant app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus.

A Tale of Three Countries
A Tale of Three Countries 150 150 CloudGovCo

This week May 20 we step back from the Cloud to again look at #Covid and the responses in Canada, USA and UK compared to Italy.

Italy was badly affected at the outset but its response was hard and fast with a complete lockdown of Lombardy. The graph of Italy’s recovery (John Hopkins University May 18) is very narrow and steep. This is typical of many countries that went for suppression instead of mitigation.

Covid cases in Italy

Italy had 500 cases on March 01

Contrast this with the shape of the recovery graphs for USA, UK and Canada, which are very broad with a shallow recovery slope. These three amigos were forced into a mitigation strategy because their initial response was weak and slow. Now they are united in easing out of lockdown before testing and contact tracing are fully in place, and they risk a long and painful recovery.

Covid cases in USA

USA had 500 cases March 12


Covid cases in UK

UK had 500 cases March 18

Take Canada as a more detailed example. It’s highest number of daily cases was a spike of 2,800 on April 5. But if we take April 21 as more representative of the peak with 1,700 cases versus 1,100 on May 18, this is an average daily reduction of 1.29%. At this rate, Canada will not achieve 500 cases per day — the point at which it declared an emergency — for another 62 days. (Admittedly this assumes a linear response.) This is in the third week of July.

Covid cases in Canada

Canada had 500 cases March 23

There are different politics in play.

In Canada the provinces of Ontario and Quebec failed to control March break (British Columbia took a different approach) and holiday travellers returning to their Toronto and Montreal airports. The result is these two provinces are at the centre of the pandemic in Canada. Montreal is now the seventh deadliest place in the world for daily deaths with an uncertain future. Like the UK, Canada failed to safeguard care homes for the elderly. And guidance from the Government of Canada has also sometimes lagged guidance from the WHO and CDC by 10 days.

In the USA there has been complete chaos resulting in the worst pandemic response globally and the highest deaths in the world. President Trump has encouraged armed protesters to attack legislatures in states that have Democratic governors while he muses about injecting bleach and gulps hydroxychloroquine pills “because I think it’s good, I heard a lot of good stories … I take a pill every day.”

In the UK the national government has been acting like schoolboys trying to outdo each other in a debating club. You could not make up their guidance, from saying car pooling is ok if the driver doesn’t look at you to you can’t visit both your parents at the same time but if you meet someone else’s parents in public that’s ok.

The UK government, relying on behavioural scientists rather than public health experts, bumbled at every step from its abandoned policy of herd immunity – which delayed the lockdown until later than in other countries – to its inexplicable decision on March 12 to stop community testing.

Recent studies paint a consistent picture: across countries, the restrictions being put in place by governments are effective to slow the pandemic. If a government delivers an effective testing and contact-tracing strategy that brings the virus under control by the time lockdown measures are lifted, health authorities would have measures in place to identify and curb incipient outbreaks like those in Germany and Seoul.

Optimize Cloud Storage Costs
Optimize Cloud Storage Costs 150 150 CloudGovCo

Previously we’ve mentioned the impact of data-transfer costs on #Cloud solutions. Overall you should review storage solutions based on durability, availability, security, functional requirements and government and regulatory requirements.

* Use locally attached, ephemeral storage on elastic compute instances for non-persistent data.

* Increase storage only when needed. Do not over-provision.

* Review and eliminate unused object storage.

* Identify unattached block-storage volumes, and delete them.

* Review storage classes used based on level of durability, availability and cost.

* Review version control policies for cost effects.

* Use lifecycle policies to migrate data to archival storage at reduced cost with careful consideration of retrieval processes and cost.

* Use Reduced Redundancy Storage for less cost, where possible.

* Explore CSP pricing plans that could even out bursts in storage.

* Review costs for data requests and data retrieval.

* Review data transfer costs and optimise the architecture.

* Review management and replication costs.

Confidentiality Integrity Availability
Confidentiality Integrity Availability 150 150 CloudGovCo

This week we describe the security concepts of Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability (CIA) plus Accountability. For more information about security see our free course

Availability Explained
Availability Explained 150 150 CloudGovCo

Availability is the level of service expected:

  • Up time
  • Response time
  • System recovery time from an outage
  • Degree of data recovery from an outage

Availability is the required level of responsiveness of programs, services and information being provided by the information system to support the stated mission.

It covers up time, the response time online, and business continuity from an outage or data loss.

The availability is usually specified in a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Accountability Explained
Accountability Explained 150 150 CloudGovCo

When using a computer system, individuals are responsible & accountable for their actions through Identification and Authentication:

  • Identification recognizes the log-on ID
  • Authentication verifies the log-on ID

When you use an information system you are responsible and accountable for your actions.  All information systems should provide a means by which individual users can be held individually accountable for their actions through the use of Identification and Authentication.

Identification is the process whereby a system recognizes a valid user’s identity, that is the log-on ID.

Authentication is the process of verifying the claimed identity of a user with a password, PIN or other device.

Sensitive systems, such as banking, should use multifactor authentication with two or more items to validate.

The common practice of using an email address for identification is simple. It’s also insecure because a hacker can easily get your email. If this is necessary, for example on FaceBook or LinkedIn, set up a separate email account that you use for log-ons only.

Integrity Explained
Integrity Explained 150 150 CloudGovCo

Services & information handled by information systems must be:


Integrity is the required level of accuracy, completeness and dependability of the programs, services and information being handled by the information system or its assets.

Confidentiality Explained
Confidentiality Explained 150 150 CloudGovCo

Confidentiality means information is not made available to:

  • Unauthorized individuals
  • Unauthorized entities
  • Unauthorized processes

Confidentiality is controlled by access measures provided by an information system.

The concept is that information is not made available or disclosed to unauthorised individuals, entities, or processes.

Ideally, if you do not have access to information, you should not be able to find or see it or its metadata.

Road Out of Covid is Cloudy
Road Out of Covid is Cloudy 150 150 CloudGovCo

Nothing will be the same for anyone after #Covid. The organising principles and assumptions of neoliberal markets are collapsing or simply evaporating: austerity, deregulation, privatization, and trickle-down economics. More than 3 million people around the world have been infected with the Sars-Cov-2 virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The worst-affected country is the US, with 978,680 cases on April 27.

Some economists are predicting a V-shaped recovery and others are saying it will be U-shaped. Real-estate boards are saying the market will bounce back in September.

This is magical thinking. We will be lucky if the economy recovers to 60% in 2021. People without a government job will face a decade of recovery with loss of assets along the way. For some businesses, who spent 12 years rebuilding after the 2008 financial crash, this will be the second black swan. (Been there. Done that.)

What happens for a business is that your market goes away and may never exist again. For example, retail will accelerate its move online and consolidate further around Amazon and Walmart and stores like Costco and Target. The barrier to entry will be higher for new outlets (it will be harder to find them with the Google algorithm). There will be more friction in unexpected places. Getting simple things like screws will become an expedition to a destination. Business will find it hard to restore supply chains because the road to recovery will be different in every jurisdiction.

In addition to real-estate and retail, there will be no jobs for summer students. Semesters will be lost and won’t fully return until January. Air travel will be reduced. Airlines are already consolidating through administration and other forms of insolvency. Suppliers like Boeing and Airbus are struggling with reduced demand for aircraft.

There will be bankruptcies in restaurants, bars and cafes. Even if they open for business they will not be able to break even with restricted seating [glossary_exclude]capacity[/glossary_exclude] to enforce social distancing. Nobody will want to go to the theatre or a concert or a movie unless they are insane. If they do, we will have a Covid spike.

Consequently, the tax [glossary_exclude]base[/glossary_exclude] for governments and especially municipalities, isn’t coming back. National governments can use fiat currency to keep going but municipalities dependent on property taxes will have to reduce to providing core services and impose new taxes such as congestion charges.

All of these, and more, will be chains of dependencies that are very fragile and easily broken, leading to more failures and lost jobs.

The employment participation rate has fallen to unchartered territory. (Divide the number of people actively participating in the labour force by the total number of people eligible to participate in the labour force.) Jobs will be harder to find and employers will demand more specialized skills. More people will be in the gig economy.

The road back requires:

  • Covid curve declines to a [glossary_exclude]safe[/glossary_exclude] threshold.
  • The transmission rate from person to person is less than one.
  • Widespread mass testing, identification, quarantine, and contact tracing of every case suppresses Covid.
  • A Covid vaccine and effective anti-viral drugs give people confidence to co-mingle at work, in stores and at events.

Without these we will continue to live in Covid World with social distancing and its knock-on cost effects. It’s difficult to compare countries because many are under testing, and tracking death rates per million is a better indicator. Even that can be misleading because Covid deaths outside hospital might be attributed to something else. The London Financial Times has suggested that deaths in excess of normal levels is the best overall measure.

The below curves graph the daily progress of the virus in several countries, showing how far some have to go to knock down Covid.

Countries that suppressed Covid

Covid cases in China

Daily Covid cases in China April 27 (John Hopkins)

Covid cases in NZ

Daily Covid cases in NZ April 27 (John Hopkins)

Covid cases in Australia

Daily Covid cases in Australia April 27 (John Hopkins)

Daily Covid cases in Germany

Daily Covid cases in Germany April 27 (John Hopkins)

Far Eastern nations like Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Viet Nam and China, plus Germany, Australia and New Zealand have had a superior response to the Covid pandemic than most nations. China was a bit slow off the mark at the outset but, generally, all of these countries went in fast and hard to suppress the virus. This can be seen in the narrow width of their graphs of daily cases, which also have strong downward slopes. These countries are starting to relax restrictions.

Countries that mitigated Covid

Covid cases in Canada

Daily Covid cases in Canada April 27 (John Hopkins)

Daily Covid cases in Spain

Daily Covid cases in Spain April 27 (John Hopkins)

Covid cases in Italy

Daily Covid cases in Italy April 27 (John Hopkins)

Most other countries adopted a mitigation strategy to “flatten the curve”. This means striving to keep the number of cases within the capacity of the health system by locking down the economy. While the curve might flatten it will remain very broad for months.

These countries were backed into mitigation because they failed to act quickly. They had no other choice.

For example, Canada, like the USA, didn’t act until March. By then Covid had already seeded the population especially in Ontario and Quebec which failed to limit the school March break. Canada was also hampered by divided responsibilities in its federation. Going forward this will be difficult politically as regions demand a return to normalcy on different schedules.

The media is also not helping, with a focus on flattening the curve without explaining that we need a downward slope to a safe threshold. With provinces like Saskatchewan and New Brunswick already opening up the media message will be even more mixed. And, at press time, Quebec announced elementary schools will reopen May 11 but high-school students will remain out and protected from Covid until September.

Countries believing in Unicorns

Covid cases in UK

Daily Covid cases in UK April 27 (John Hopkins)

Covid cases in USA

Daily Covid cases in USA April 27 (John Hopkins)

In the UK and USA there has been magical thinking.

The UK persisted in muddled thinking, believing first in herd immunity. Then, after a U-turn, it inexplicably cancelled all community testing and contact tracing when the UK had fewer than 10 deaths and less than 500 confirmed cases. It is also under reporting by only counting deaths and cases in hospitals. It also passed up opportunities to get masks and ventilators through the EU because it believed in British exceptionalism. Prime Minister Johnson visited Covid patients in a hospital and boasted that he shook everyone’s hand. How did that work out for you, eh.

The UK was an advocate of the discredited herd immunity theory before it went into lock-down, and is now on track to be the worst case in Europe. The theory holds that if at least 60% of people catch Covid then the total herd of people will be prevented from catching it. It makes many assumptions, such as it’s impossible to catch Covid a second time (we don’t know that), and that deaths will be minimal. The British is Best belief has extended to the development of UK tracking apps which will have a centralised database managed by the National Health System instead of using an open Apple-Google Covid protocol. Also, people in the UK have burned down 40 cell phone towers because they believe the towers spread Covid.

As for the USA, it is a deeply dysfunctional country. It has thrown up Trump as a symptom of widespread stupidity and ignorance and hubris about America being great and the best. Most people there believe paying for healthcare is OK because the market is always right. If you’re poor and sick it’s your own fault. Trump is no worse than the celebrity anti-vaxxers and gospel ministers holding masses to cast out Covid.

In the USA there was denial that Covid could affect white Americans even as multi-cultural California headed for lock-down. It wasn’t until mid-March for the US to begin to respond. By then, Covid had been circulating in New York City for two months. The US response is also hampered by the federated organization of the country. Trump, the object of blame (often rightly so for many things) can not actually order governors of states to do anything. So states like Alaska, Georgia and Oklahoma are re-opening.