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Let’s be honest, shall we?

At enterprises today, cybersecurity teams are narrowly focused on addressing exploits. In addition to monitoring security alerts and incident data, security teams scan technology company news and software releases for information about new vulnerabilities that need to be patched. At the same time, they’re likely paying experts to monitor online criminal marketplaces to understand the latest threats that are being productized and weaponized. All of this data helps these experts quickly evolve their strategies and reduce their company’s attack surface.

This model, unfortunately, is broken. It’s more than likely that the adversary is already hiding within the network, and equally as likely that they got in with stolen, now compromised, credentials.

Digital transformation, hybrid work, third-party partnerships, and other factors have weakened security controls, created shadow IT and introduced other issues cybersecurity teams will be working on for years to come. As a result, these professionals are almost always working from a reactive position.

In addition, their assumption is that they can match pace with increasingly sophisticated, well-funded adversaries, such as nation states. Malicious insiders, hacktivists, and curious teenagers round out the mix, creating a confusing mix of attackers, motivations, strategies, and toolkits. As just one example, multiple people have been arrested for Lapsus$ hacks, including a teenager who has reportedly amassed a fortune of more than $14M in bitcoin from his attacks.

A new way of thinking about cybersecurity threats

So, if focusing on the exploit no longer works against cyber mayhem, what does? I propose that enterprises should take a different lens to Strengthen their cybersecurity posture moving forward.

  1. There are many ways to get user credentials: Nearly all of the hundreds of breach reports I’ve read have involved compromised credentials. More than 80% of hacking breaches are now enabled by brute force or the use of lost or stolen credentials, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Compromised credentials alone are involved in 61% of attacks, because it’s easier for bad actors to go in the front door than batter systems looking for vulnerabilities. And attackers know, compromised credentials work … every … single … time. I think there’s an argument to be made that compromised credentials are involved in nearly 100% of attacks, because even if credentials aren’t used to get in the front door, they’re used by attackers—the vast majority of the time—to move around and access targeted systems and data once they’re in.

There are so many ways to harvest these credentials. In addition to mining past data dumps, cyberattackers can phish employees, use social engineering to gain personal data for password attacks, automate credential stuffing, target devices with default passwords, scan cloud environments for exposed credentials and more. Organizations need to enable multi-factor authentication for passwords and enforce the concept of least-privilege granted and automate the enforcement of creating new passwords. Yet even this won’t be enough, as user profiles can be misconfigured, and determined insiders can maneuver around security policies and tools. As a result, cybersecurity teams must be able to identify when abnormal user behavior becomes risky, such as when administrator privileges are used to access new or existing systems in uncharacteristic ways.

  1. Cyberattackers are already inside enterprise networks. A study found that 93 percent of corporate networks can be penetrated. Unfortunately, it’s getting easier day by day, as would-be attackers can simply buy credentials and toolkits on the Dark Web to accelerate their speed to market. Their goal isn’t always a quick data dump on the criminal underground or a ransomware payout. Sometimes attackers want to see how far and how long they can move throughout networks without being detected. As they learn more about a company’s IT systems, policies and assets, they can dream up new motivations. These goals include financial payouts (64%), fun (17%), grudges (14%), espionage (9%), convenience (3%) and ideology (1%)—or a mix of multiple aims.
  2. Every breach is an insider threat. Cybersecurity leaders are always concerned about malicious insiders, disgruntled employees, or partners who use access privileges to exfiltrate data or cause other types of damage. Yet, the reality is more mundane. Although 94 percent of breaches involved insiders in 2021, they were more often than not due to error (84 percent), employees breaking security rules (74 percent), and phishing attacks (73 percent). As a result, cybersecurity teams must not only protect systems, applications, and data, but employees from being used as unknowing pawns in attacks.

That said, 66 percent of survey respondents said they had experienced a malicious leak in the last year. Insider data breaches are costly, typically take 85 days to detect and cost up to $15.4 million to remediate—up 34 percent from 2020. I predict that insider attacks will likely grow, as cybercriminals step up the pace of advertising to employees willing to hand over credentials and approve multi-factor authentication prompts or the installation of remote management software on their desktops. For example, one ad offered employees at companies such as Apple, AT&T, IBM, and others up to $20K a week to perform “insider jobs.”

  1. Cybercriminals are collaborating on attack strategies: Cyberattackers aren’t just using the Dark Web as a watering hole to boast about exploits or sell services, such as stolen credentials and data or malware kits. They also use online criminal marketplaces to establish their brand and recruit and vet members, then moving discussions to private, encrypted channels such as Telegram. As a result, it’s harder for enterprises to detect new attacks in the making. Companies should also collaborate. By sharing cyber intelligence through industry forums and other channels, companies can help each other and collectively evolve their response to address the latest attack strategies and tactics.
  2. Focusing solely on exploits provides limited gains. Cyberattackers know that there is a shelf life on vulnerabilities and new attack strategies. So, they’re leveraging shared information, reconnaissance and automation to move faster. Once companies catch up, these groups are on to the next exploit. That means that cybersecurity teams who focus on exploits alone have limited visibility into how threats are evolving. Focusing on attacker behaviors instead yields richer insights that teams can act on to stop and remediate breaches.

How to match tactics with cyberattackers

So, if cyber attackers are already inside networks, traditional security tools typically won’t detect them. Outsiders and insiders are using legitimate credentials and access privileges to explore networks and launch attacks. As a result, companies need to take a different approach.

They should use security platforms that use machine learning to establish a picture of normal activity for users and assets and automatically compare new activity against these thresholds and assign them risk scores. As more anomalous activities occur, that risk score increases. When these activities exceed preset levels, security analysts are then automatically engaged to investigate. Their work is streamlined with a machine-built timeline of a potential attacker’s complete journey, rather than a laundry list of alerts.

By using this approach, analysts no longer have to filter out noise, including false alerts or wait for alarms. Instead, they can focus on early warning signs, detecting and preventing breaches before they cause significant harm. Automation and behavioral analytics also Strengthen analysts’ focus and productivity at every step of the journey, from collecting and analyzing data, to triaging incidents, to speeding investigation and response.

#Digitaltransformation, #hybridwork and third-parties have weakened #security controls. It's now more likely than not that the adversary is already hiding within the network, and equally as likely they got in with compromised, credentials. #respectdataClick to Tweet

Take a new approach to reduce breach impact

It’s time to stop treating cyberattackers and threats as if they’re coming outside-in. The truth is that they’re already inside enterprise networks. Using the right tools can help cybersecurity teams drive faster to insight, focusing on the problems that truly matter and reducing their impact. That work will translate to higher customer trust, a better brand in the marketplace and fewer operational distractions, as well as the ability to avoid fines, lawsuits, and the destabilizing impacts of widespread breaches.

Mon, 08 Aug 2022 23:00:00 -0500 Ralph Pisani en-US text/html https://www.cpomagazine.com/cyber-security/why-does-every-hack-involve-stolen-credentials-because-it-works-every-time/
Killexams : Bethlehem Gronneberg, 2016 Bush Fellow is Inspiring Minds

Bethlehem Gronneberg was born in Addis Ababa, a beautiful city nestled in the foothills of Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. A first-generation college student, her family nurtured in Bethlehem a passion for learning. “Growing up, although books were scarce, I read everything I could get my hands on,” she remembers. “I was intensely passionate about learning and seeing everyone else in my family read and write, I was in a hurry to get there.”

Because there were no libraries nearby, the Bible and chapter books captured her imagination at home. “The stories spoke to me and enlightened me,” she says. Books started her on a lifelong journey of blazing trails, breaking down barriers and bringing digital worlds into being.

Decades later, Gronneberg brings the same imagination and creativity to girls in North Dakota. In 2016, Gronneberg celebrated twin milestones: she was awarded a Bush Fellowship and founded uCodeGirl, a Fargo-based nonprofit that aims to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Her mission is to empower girls with mastery of computer science, which transformed her from a shy young girl in Ethiopia into an influential global leader.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS, BLAZING NEW TRAILS

In 1991, Gronneberg was a second-year student studying statistics at Addis Ababa University when she became one of two women invited to pursue the just-launched computer science minor — Ethiopia’s first. Gronneberg’s math professors thought her proficiency with numbers and logic would make her a good fit.

“I was curious, but also terrified,” she says. “I had never touched a computer before this, let alone programmed one. However, assurance from my professor gave me the boost I needed to persist. It was the beginning of a long, fulfilling journey.” On her first day in the lab, she sat down at a big, boxy IBM computer that ran a programming language called BASIC and wrote her first instruction. “Hello!” the machine responded. Gronneberg was intrigued, and never looked back.

Gronneberg coding in basic and fortran as a second-year student of Addis Ababa University’s pilot Computer Science program in 1991. (Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Gronneberg) Credit: Bethlehen Gronneberg


FROM ADDIS ABABA TO THE UN

Against many odds, Gronneberg became one of the first two women to graduate with a computer science minor in Ethiopia in 1993. Dr. Nancy Hafkin, who pioneered the development of electronic communication in Africa in the ’80s and ’90s, explains that while Ethiopia now has 64 universities, there was only one in the early ’90s, and tens of thousands of students tried to get in every year

“For a young girl like Bethlehem to get through 12th grade and compete with all the boys in the country just to gain entrance to the university was amazing,” she says. “Women made up no more than 10% of the student body, and they were mostly clustered in the social and health sciences. But when Bethlehem sees something she wants to accomplish, she goes for it, even when she’s got no role model.”

After graduating, Gronneberg worked at the university as a research assistant until 1995, when Hafkin recruited her to work for the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). She was hired as a system administrator, and later became a web developer.

“I told her the UNECA needed a website and asked her if she could build one for us,” says Hafkin. “She didn’t have any experience designing websites, since the computer science lab at the university wasn’t well-equipped, but she read everything in sight and developed a prototype. I invited the Assistant Secretary General of the UN to see a demo of it, and he was blown away.”

At the time, Ethiopia still had very few libraries, let alone access to the burgeoning world wide web. Hafkin made it a priority for the UNECA to lead the development of electronic communication networks throughout Africa, and she tapped Gronneberg to be the organization’s webmaster, sending her to Canada and the U.S. for more web development training.

“I had never traveled outside of Ethiopia, so it was really exciting,” says Gronneberg. “Our server was located at the UN in New York City, so I went there to learn how to update the website. I had never been on the 38th floor of anything!”

Her tech and coding peers’ passion proved contagious, and she returned to Addis Ababa eager to train her UNECA coworkers. “I’d run mini-workshops on what the internet is,” says Gronneberg. “I explained that ‘It’s like an information superhighway.’ A few people asked, ‘What’s a highway?’” Gronneberg traveled throughout the continent to train and empower peers in Botswana and Cameroon to launch their own websites.

Hafkin watched with pride as Gronneberg shared her knowledge and passion. “Having your first job out of university be designing a website for the UN is quite remarkable,” says Hafkin. “But Bethlehem immediately had such professionalism that it disarmed anyone who might have been skeptical about her abilities.”

A TIME OF CHANGE

In 2000, Bethlehem married North Dakotan Ron Gronneberg, who had worked as a consultant for the UNECA. The two moved to Fargo together, and now have three sons. “When I arrived two decades ago, Fargo wasn’t as diverse as it is now,” remembers Gronneberg. “Leaving behind everything I knew and loved, only carrying what was in my heart, coming to a place with a different culture that was unfamiliar was not an easy endeavor. I built my new community one relationship at a time.”

Gronneberg became a programmer/analyst for a Fargo-based software development company and continued her professional and technological development. In 2012, she graduated with a master’s degree in software engineering from North Dakota State University (NDSU) while working full-time as a software engineer at a company building automation and software solutions for healthcare. Senior and management roles within software engineering followed.

“I associate a feeling of isolation with my time working in, and managing, software development teams,” says Gronneberg. “You feel like a novelty — an immigrant, Black and female developer. There is a certain level of weight with that. As a hiring manager, I wondered why more women who are computer science graduates in the U.S. are not part of the applicant pool.”

She saw plenty of women working as testers, business analysts and quality analysts, but a severe shortage of developers. “I later learned it’s a pipeline issue. There simply aren’t many women choosing that career path.”

It turns out that the underrepresentation of women developers in the workforce can be traced all the way back to their formative tween years. “Research points to middle school as a critical time period for engaging girls in STEM and helping them see and chart a pathway in it for themselves,” says Gronneberg.

This revelation inspired her life’s “third phase” — a phase of bold vision and powerful leadership to enact systemic change for the advancement of women in technology.

BREAKING THE PARADIGM

Women currently make up only 18% of computer science graduates nationally, according to National Science Foundation data, despite huge (and growing) demand. In 2017, there were more than 500,000 job openings in the U.S. that required a four-year computer science degree, yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics the nation produced only about 71,000 computer science graduates. According to the Computer Science Education Coalition, new graduates are estimated to only fill half of the more than 900,000 open computing jobs by the end of 2020.

Not only are women missing out on promising and potentially lucrative tech careers, but this has also left the field with a “sameness of thought,” according to David Batcheller, CEO of Fargo-based Appareo Systems. Batcheller’s product development and technology company works with uCodeGirl to provide mentors and sponsorships. “We need to do a lot of paradigm breaking upstream to create the diversity of thought and capability the industry needs,” he says. “[The technology field] could be more successful, creative and fun if we weren’t so homogenous.”

Changing the culture of tech will go a long way toward eliminating some of the most challenging barriers to women in the field. As more girls and women embrace STEM, they will be able to reshape the field’s reputation, perceived and real, as a “boys’ club.”

Breaking the paradigm also includes showcasing STEM’s creative potential, and pairing girls with role models and mentors who reflect their interests and identities. “I wanted to create a STEM-powered community of girls and their supportive mentors. A creative and enriching space where girls can micro-experiment and discover their inner ‘nerdess,’” says Gronneberg. “Girls already have the natural curiosity, creativity, focus and intellect to succeed in the ‘T’ of STEM. It’s about helping them explore how tech can make the world more kind, healthy and fun, while solving real-world problems.”

Bethlehem Gronneberg founded uCodeGirl, a Fargo-based nonprofit that aims to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). (Photo credit: David Ellis) Credit: David Ellis


UCODEGIRL IS BORN

In 2016, Kathy Cochran, a 1995 Bush Fellow and co-worker of Gronneberg’s, convinced her to apply for a Bush Fellowship, noting that her dedication to creating big, systemic change for girls in STEM was a great fit for the program. “I didn’t think it was for me,” remembers Gronneberg. “It seemed very high up and out of reach. But after attending the Bush Foundation’s webinar on the program I realized it is for people like me who are filled with dreams and know what they want.”

The application process forced her to clarify how she could increase her impact and think bigger. “They have a great set of questions that make you think about what you really want to do,” she notes. By the time she was awarded a Bush Fellowship after the nine-month selection and interview process, she had also launched uCodeGirl — a nonprofit dedicated to filling the technology sandbox with diverse voices globally. Its programs are designed to inspire and enrich young girls with leadership traits, computational skills and an entrepreneurial mindset through real-world projects, mentorship and immersion into the world of tech.

“We launched uCodeGirl when the Fargo-Moorhead tech entrepreneurial ecosystem was growing and thriving,” says Gronneberg. “It became a fertile ground for uCodeGirl to impact the community. The Bush Fellowship was an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and reflection. It is a great platform to amplify my passion and vision.”

HOLISTIC ENGAGEMENT

Bree Langemo, a law professor at Concordia College and former president of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (an organization that advocates for entrepreneurial mindset education), was drawn to Gronneberg’s vision because of its holistic approach. “uCodeGirl offers enrichment and mentorship, and even more importantly, community,” says Langemo. “It’s more than a program. It’s an ecosystem. When a middle school girl sees a high school girl choose tech as a pathway and then come back and serve as a mentor, that creates a community of support.”

A founding board member of uCodeGirl, Langemo also appreciates the organization’s three-fold mission to train girls to be leaders, programmers and entrepreneurs. “If you only provide the computational and technical skills, they may not see themselves launching, creating or innovating something new in the field,” she notes. “There are plenty of coding camps out there, but what’s special about uCodeGirl is that holistic approach of equipping girls to have entrepreneurship and leadership skills as well.”

“We want young women to be the authors of their lives and the creators of solutions to real-world problems,” says Gronneberg. “To be the driving force of innovation and leadership in tech rather than just consumers of it.” At uCodeGirl’s summer camp in 2017, one team of girls designed and coded T-shirts to light up in tandem with the wearer’s beating heart. Some went on to participate in a national STEM design competition, prototyping an organizer-based app to help alleviate stress in teenagers.

Dr. Kendall Nygard, chair of NDSU’s Department of Computer Science, served as Gronneberg’s advisor for her master’s degree and her Ph.D. in the same field. He also leads cybersecurity instruction at uCodeGirl camps.

According to Nygard, the percentage of women majoring in computer science at NDSU is between 10-15%. “Where’s the lever to change that?” he asks. “We really need to step it up. When we consider emerging areas like cybersecurity, the need for more bright computer science graduates is even more extreme. What Bethlehem is doing with uCodeGirl is one example of a lever.”


GROWING AS A LEADER

In order to enact her vision for uCodeGirl, Gronneberg knew there were a few areas in which she needed to grow. In her application for the Bush Fellowship, she wrote about wanting to Strengthen her public speaking skills, learn more about managing a nonprofit and conquer the voice in her head whispering about the risk of failure. She wrote, “I need to keep reminding myself, ‘What is the worst that can happen if this doesn’t work, and can I live with that?’”

The Fellowship allowed her to travel to California for training on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University and to attend a women’s leadership retreat. “It took me out of my little circle into the bigger world and let me see myself as part of the bigger sum,” says Gronneberg. “It opened my eyes to possibilities on a larger scale — what can I do in my community and in the world to move this needle forward?”

While building her nonprofit, she employed the same mindset she’d learned in the tech and startup world. “Bethlehem takes the lessons of tech into the work of nonprofits,” says Lulete Mola, vice president of community impact for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, a funding partner of uCodeGirl. “She translates that idea of innovation to social innovation, saying it’s OK to try, to fail fast and fail forward.”

“She’s relentless in her passion and pursuit,” says Langemo. “She has a quiet, commanding presence so when she talks, people listen. And the Fellowship has helped her Strengthen her speaking skills even more and infect others with her passion. People want to see her succeed because Bethlehem succeeding means all these young girls are succeeding as well.”

Gronneberg at Africa Code Week in Ethiopia in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Gronneberg) Credit: Bethlehem Gronneberg

COLLABORATING ACROSS SECTORS

Gronneberg knew her vision would require collaboration between schools, businesses, families, nonprofits and funding organizations. “I didn’t want to create a transactional coding camp,” she says. “I wanted to build an ecosystem that sustainably engages young women and helps our community to thrive.” In addition to uCodeGirl’s partnerships with local schools and universities such as NDSU, the organization also calls upon area businesses for mentors, sponsorships and job shadowing opportunities.

Many of the mentors and business leaders say they get more out of their support of uCodeGirl than they give. “From an enterprise perspective, it’s difficult to invest the time and energy to promote STEM to an audience of young women,” says Appareo Systems CEO David Batcheller. “uCodeGirl is a bite-size way for a business like ours to support events and activities with schools and students. It’s all packaged up for us and makes it easy for professionals to engage and have a real impact.”

And many of the women tech professionals who serve as uCodeGirl mentors express gratitude for the opportunity to give back, saying they wish something like uCodeGirl had existed when they were in school.

There’s no doubt that Gronneberg herself has stitched together this ecosystem of support. “She’s a connector,” says Batcheller. “But she’s also a brilliant, educated scientist and engineer — she’s an inspiring example of what the program is intended to achieve.”

It’s the role modeling that lies at the heart of uCodeGirl’s mission that will continue to multiply the organization’s impact. Since uCodeGirl’s founding in 2016, two of its participants have already gone on to realize their passion in programming at area colleges, and three high school seniors continued to do the same in fall 2020.

“Even when they’re in college, we won’t leave them alone,” says Gronneberg. “When they graduate, we want them to come back and be mentors. The multiplying is just beginning.”

ENLARGING THE CIRCLE

uCodeGirl emphasizes inclusivity not just in terms of gender, but also in engaging girls from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants, Native Americans and those from disadvantaged communities throughout the upper Midwest. As Gronneberg pursued her Bush Fellowship and was challenged to think bigger, she expanded uCodeGirl’s mission to Africa. In her travels to visit family (a crucial element of her self-care), she hosts international coding camps and workshops to introduce STEM to young girls in Ethiopia. She envisions a world where the people who create and build software mirror the societies for which they create and build.

In the summer of 2019, Gronneberg hosted a coding camp for 130 high school girls in Ethiopia and facilitated a Skype call between uCodeGirl participants in Addis Ababa and Fargo. “They had so much fun, just giggling and being teenagers, asking questions about each other’s cultures,” says Gronneberg. At one point, a Fargo girl asked an Ethiopian girl about her favorite part of coding. The Ethiopian girl said she had no answer because she didn’t know what coding was. “Everyone was quiet for a second,” says Gronneberg, “and then the Fargo girl said, ‘Oh you will love it; you’ll be so good at it.’ Right there, across the world, she gave that girl permission to explore and be empowered.”

Gronneberg’s work with uCodeGirl in Ethiopia led to a private meeting with President Sahle-Work Zewde, the country’s first female president. The efforts to engage young girls in STEM align with the president’s vision of girl empowerment through education. Also in 2019, Gronneberg was the guest of honor of North Dakota Senator John Hoeven at the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. “She’s a North Dakota ambassador to the world in a lot of ways,” says her Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Nygard. “She sends me selfies with the senator and the Ethiopian president. All these people buy into what she’s trying to do.”

“As a partner in her work and as a fellow Ethiopian, I’m so inspired by her,” says Mola of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. “She connects what’s happening in greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities to East Africa. She’s a global leader.” Hafkin, Gronneberg’s first boss and lifelong friend and mentor, says, “It’s been amazing to see her grow from the young woman I first knew who was so shy and soft-spoken to someone who can speak with the Ethiopian president and promote the program she developed globally. She’s a model for so many others. She shows young women that her story can be their story, too.

Author: Mo Perry

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Killexams : Driving greater agility in the financial service industry with smarter databases

Driving greater agility in the financial service industry with smarter databases 4By Julian Moffett, CTO BFSI at EDB

Digitalisation and the desire to build data-enabled business models is sweeping through the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector. And, as with other verticals, those organisations that can best optimise and capture data as an asset will benefit from agility, smarter decision making, lower costs and minimised risks. Getting there though, is a major challenge for traditional BFSI institutions as they must overhaul long-established organisational and operational processes, if they are to take advantage of the vast amounts of valuable data lurking within their IT systems.  It is why a growing number of BFSI companies are turning to open source databases, such as PostgreSQL, as they offer far greater flexibility to unleash the power of data, while continuing to offer the robustness required for enterprise-ready databases. Let’s look at the big picture…and it’s pretty stark.

Our oldest financial institutions date back hundreds of years: in the UK Lloyds Bank and Aviva have their roots in the 18th century; Coutts and Barclays go back a further century. Perhaps in part because of this, they suffer from an image problem with a reputation for being risk-averse, late adopters of technology. Most will be weighed down by large legacy IT systems and monolithic applications that slow them down and make change hard. But they persist with them because they feel (with some justification) that they are hard to re-platform and dangerous to migrate.

But their world is being shaken up by new, well-funded fintechs, enjoying the newfound freedoms of open banking. These digital-native players can design processes and technology platforms with a blank sheet of paper. That means they can use the latest tools, build on open-source software, think mobile-first, create compelling customer experiences and generally move very quickly to make new apps and offers.

So, BFSI veterans face a tricky Catch-22 conundrum: how to be nimble without demolishing the underpinnings of processes that have served them for years or even decades. One obvious way for them to move faster is widespread adoption of cloud technology to access the latest software, gain elastic compute capacity, support mobile devices, shrink hardware cost bases and reduce their IT administration overheads. Cloud is also widely seen as an offramp for those afore-mentioned older applications by refactoring to embrace the new in the form of microservices and to shave off risks such as software being no longer supported. This is far from easy but many take a middle road which sees them deconstruct applications, placing more services in modern environments in an extended iterative process.

But moving to the cloud is an architectural change that has major implications for related infrastructure and dependencies. And a key aspect here is the chance to re-evaluate the choice of software that is at the heart of all attempts to digitise, automate and analyse – the database.

Most BFSI firms will have deep sunk investments in Oracle, Microsoft or IBM relational database management systems (RDBMS) and would like to relax that dependency in order to avoid vendor lock-in, reduce costs and gain access to databases designed for the modern world of private and public cloud, Big Data analytics and flexible tooling ecosystems. There are other advantages to re-examining database choice too and many will enjoy the flexibility, ease of deployment, low-admin footprint and cost effectiveness of database as a service. This is where working with the right expert partner can prove beneficial to give BFSI companies the confidence that the chosen database is truly enterprise-ready.

This is what we are seeing with the rise of open source, in particular PostgreSQL databases. Many customers will trial and run their new databases alongside core databases so risk is minimised, but increasingly we are seeing PostgreSQL emerge as the defacto standard for RDBMS requirements, as working with the right partner ensures customers have access to the expertise and reassurances necessary to certain open source databases can run mission-critical applications.

The veteran’s ace card

Fintechs can move nimbly, fail fast and bring a spirit of adventure and innovation to their work but they lack one thing that the veterans have in spades: data. Big BFSI firms can look back and across a huge number of interactions to predict customer behavior, identify preferences, perform targeted marketing campaigns, provide tailored portfolio advice and anticipate needs. They can bathe in vast data lakes with myriad data sources and apply data science, AI and Machine Learning atop these. Again, here modern databases with relational stores such as Postgres are an excellent fit.

In summary, adopting modern databases and embracing open source offerings such as PostgreSQL supported by the right partners will not only deliver an enterprise-class service. It will deliver a giant leap forward in flexibility and have very significant knock-on effects in driving a culture of innovation and a sense of freedom to try things. If BSFI veterans can unleash the potential of the data within their organisations, they can capitalise on a significant advantage over their younger, upstart rivals: now they need to find the right data store.

Thu, 28 Jul 2022 06:22:00 -0500 en-GB text/html https://www.globalbankingandfinance.com/driving-greater-agility-in-the-financial-service-industry-with-smarter-databases/
Killexams : Bethlehem Gronneberg, 2016 Bush Fellow is Inspiring Mind and Bridging Gaps

Bethlehem Gronneberg was born in Addis Ababa, a beautiful city nestled in the foothills of Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. A first-generation college student, her family nurtured in Bethlehem a passion for learning. “Growing up, although books were scarce, I read everything I could get my hands on,” she remembers. “I was intensely passionate about learning and seeing everyone else in my family read and write, I was in a hurry to get there.”

Because there were no libraries nearby, the Bible and chapter books captured her imagination at home. “The stories spoke to me and enlightened me,” she says. Books started her on a lifelong journey of blazing trails, breaking down barriers and bringing digital worlds into being. 

Decades later, Gronneberg brings the same imagination and creativity to girls in North Dakota. In 2016, Gronneberg celebrated twin milestones: she was awarded a Bush Fellowship and founded uCodeGirl, a Fargo-based nonprofit that aims to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Her mission is to empower girls with mastery of computer science, which transformed her from a shy young girl in Ethiopia into an influential global leader. 

OVERCOMING BARRIERS, BLAZING NEW TRAILS

In 1991, Gronneberg was a second-year student studying statistics at Addis Ababa University when she became one of two women invited to pursue the just-launched computer science minor — Ethiopia’s first. Gronneberg’s math professors thought her proficiency with numbers and logic would make her a good fit.

“I was curious, but also terrified,” she says. “I had never touched a computer before this, let alone programmed one. However, assurance from my professor gave me the boost I needed to persist. It was the beginning of a long, fulfilling journey.” On her first day in the lab, she sat down at a big, boxy IBM computer that ran a programming language called BASIC and wrote her first instruction. “Hello!” the machine responded. Gronneberg was intrigued, and never looked back.

Gronneberg coding in basic and fortran as a second-year student of Addis Ababa University’s pilot Computer Science program in 1991. (Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Gronneberg) Credit: Bethlehen Gronneberg

FROM ADDIS ABABA TO THE UN

Against many odds, Gronneberg became one of the first two women to graduate with a computer science minor in Ethiopia in 1993. Dr. Nancy Hafkin, who pioneered the development of electronic communication in Africa in the ’80s and ’90s, explains that while Ethiopia now has 64 universities, there was only one in the early ’90s, and tens of thousands of students tried to get in every year.

“For a young girl like Bethlehem to get through 12th grade and compete with all the boys in the country just to gain entrance to the university was amazing,” she says. “Women made up no more than 10% of the student body, and they were mostly clustered in the social and health sciences. But when Bethlehem sees something she wants to accomplish, she goes for it, even when she’s got no role model.”

After graduating, Gronneberg worked at the university as a research assistant until 1995, when Hafkin recruited her to work for the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). She was hired as a system administrator, and later became a web developer.

“I told her the UNECA needed a website and asked her if she could build one for us,” says Hafkin. “She didn’t have any experience designing websites, since the computer science lab at the university wasn’t well-equipped, but she read everything in sight and developed a prototype. I invited the Assistant Secretary General of the UN to see a demo of it, and he was blown away.”

At the time, Ethiopia still had very few libraries, let alone access to the burgeoning world wide web. Hafkin made it a priority for the UNECA to lead the development of electronic communication networks throughout Africa, and she tapped Gronneberg to be the organization’s webmaster, sending her to Canada and the U.S. for more web development training. 

“I had never traveled outside of Ethiopia, so it was really exciting,” says Gronneberg. “Our server was located at the UN in New York City, so I went there to learn how to update the website. I had never been on the 38th floor of anything!” 

Her tech and coding peers’ passion proved contagious, and she returned to Addis Ababa eager to train her UNECA coworkers. “I’d run mini-workshops on what the internet is,” says Gronneberg. “I explained that ‘It’s like an information superhighway.’ A few people asked, ‘What’s a highway?’” Gronneberg traveled throughout the continent to train and empower peers in Botswana and Cameroon to launch their own websites.

Hafkin watched with pride as Gronneberg shared her knowledge and passion. “Having your first job out of university be designing a website for the UN is quite remarkable,” says Hafkin. “But Bethlehem immediately had such professionalism that it disarmed anyone who might have been skeptical about her abilities.”

A TIME OF CHANGE

In 2000, Bethlehem married North Dakotan Ron Gronneberg, who had worked as a consultant for the UNECA. The two moved to Fargo together, and now have three sons. “When I arrived two decades ago, Fargo wasn’t as diverse as it is now,” remembers Gronneberg. “Leaving behind everything I knew and loved, only carrying what was in my heart, coming to a place with a different culture that was unfamiliar was not an easy endeavor. I built my new community one relationship at a time.” 

Gronneberg became a programmer/analyst for a Fargo-based software development company and continued her professional and technological development. In 2012, she graduated with a master’s degree in software engineering from North Dakota State University (NDSU) while working full-time as a software engineer at a company building automation and software solutions for healthcare. Senior and management roles within software engineering followed. 

“I associate a feeling of isolation with my time working in, and managing, software development teams,” says Gronneberg. “You feel like a novelty — an immigrant, Black and female developer. There is a certain level of weight with that. As a hiring manager, I wondered why more women who are computer science graduates in the U.S. are not part of the applicant pool.” 

She saw plenty of women working as testers, business analysts and quality analysts, but a severe shortage of developers. “I later learned it’s a pipeline issue. There simply aren’t many women choosing that career path.”

It turns out that the underrepresentation of women developers in the workforce can be traced all the way back to their formative tween years. “Research points to middle school as a critical time period for engaging girls in STEM and helping them see and chart a pathway in it for themselves,” says Gronneberg. 

This revelation inspired her life’s “third phase” — a phase of bold vision and powerful leadership to enact systemic change for the advancement of women in technology.

BREAKING THE PARADIGM

Women currently make up only 18% of computer science graduates nationally, according to National Science Foundation data, despite huge (and growing) demand. In 2017, there were more than 500,000 job openings in the U.S. that required a four-year computer science degree, yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics the nation produced only about 71,000 computer science graduates. According to the Computer Science Education Coalition, new graduates are estimated to only fill half of the more than 900,000 open computing jobs by the end of 2020.

Not only are women missing out on promising and potentially lucrative tech careers, but this has also left the field with a “sameness of thought,” according to David Batcheller, CEO of Fargo-based Appareo Systems. Batcheller’s product development and technology company works with uCodeGirl to provide mentors and sponsorships. “We need to do a lot of paradigm breaking upstream to create the diversity of thought and capability the industry needs,” he says. “[The technology field] could be more successful, creative and fun if we weren’t so homogenous.”

Changing the culture of tech will go a long way toward eliminating some of the most challenging barriers to women in the field. As more girls and women embrace STEM, they will be able to reshape the field’s reputation, perceived and real, as a “boys’ club.”

Breaking the paradigm also includes showcasing STEM’s creative potential, and pairing girls with role models and mentors who reflect their interests and identities. “I wanted to create a STEM-powered community of girls and their supportive mentors. A creative and enriching space where girls can micro-experiment and discover their inner ‘nerdess,’” says Gronneberg. “Girls already have the natural curiosity, creativity, focus and intellect to succeed in the ‘T’ of  STEM. It’s about helping them explore how tech can make the world more kind, healthy and fun, while solving real-world problems.”

Bethlehem Gronneberg founded uCodeGirl, a Fargo-based nonprofit that aims to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). (Photo credit: David Ellis) Credit: David Ellis

UCODEGIRL IS BORN

In 2016, Kathy Cochran, a 1995 Bush Fellow and co-worker of Gronneberg’s, convinced her to apply for a Bush Fellowship, noting that her dedication to creating big, systemic change for girls in STEM was a great fit for the program. “I didn’t think it was for me,” remembers Gronneberg. “It seemed very high up and out of reach. But after attending the Bush Foundation’s webinar on the program I realized it is for people like me who are filled with dreams and know what they want.”

The application process forced her to clarify how she could increase her impact and think bigger. “They have a great set of questions that make you think about what you really want to do,” she notes. By the time she was awarded a Bush Fellowship after the nine-month selection and interview process, she had also launched uCodeGirl — a nonprofit dedicated to filling the technology sandbox with diverse voices globally. Its programs are designed to inspire and enrich young girls with leadership traits, computational skills and an entrepreneurial mindset through real-world projects, mentorship and immersion into the world of tech. 

“We launched uCodeGirl when the Fargo-Moorhead tech entrepreneurial ecosystem was growing and thriving,” says Gronneberg. “It became a fertile ground for uCodeGirl to impact the community. The Bush Fellowship was an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and reflection. It is a great platform to amplify my passion and vision.”

HOLISTIC ENGAGEMENT

Bree Langemo, a law professor at Concordia College and former president of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (an organization that advocates for entrepreneurial mindset education), was drawn to Gronneberg’s vision because of its holistic approach. “uCodeGirl offers enrichment and mentorship, and even more importantly, community,” says Langemo. “It’s more than a program. It’s an ecosystem. When a middle school girl sees a high school girl choose tech as a pathway and then come back and serve as a mentor, that creates a community of support.”

A founding board member of uCodeGirl, Langemo also appreciates the organization’s three-fold mission to train girls to be leaders, programmers and entrepreneurs. “If you only provide the computational and technical skills, they may not see themselves launching, creating or innovating something new in the field,” she notes. “There are plenty of coding camps out there, but what’s special about uCodeGirl is that holistic approach of equipping girls to have entrepreneurship and leadership skills as well.”

“We want young women to be the authors of their lives and the creators of solutions to real-world problems,” says Gronneberg. “To be the driving force of innovation and leadership in tech rather than just consumers of it.” At uCodeGirl’s summer camp in 2017, one team of girls designed and coded T-shirts to light up in tandem with the wearer’s beating heart. Some went on to participate in a national STEM design competition, prototyping an organizer-based app to help alleviate stress in teenagers.

Dr. Kendall Nygard, chair of NDSU’s Department of Computer Science, served as Gronneberg’s advisor for her master’s degree and her Ph.D. in the same field. He also leads cybersecurity instruction at uCodeGirl camps.

According to Nygard, the percentage of women majoring in computer science at NDSU is between 10-15%. “Where’s the lever to change that?” he asks. “We really need to step it up. When we consider emerging areas like cybersecurity, the need for more bright computer science graduates is even more extreme. What Bethlehem is doing with uCodeGirl is one example of a lever.”

Gronneberg at Africa Code Week in Ethiopia in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Gronneberg) Credit: Bethlehem Gronneberg

GROWING AS A LEADER

In order to enact her vision for uCodeGirl, Gronneberg knew there were a few areas in which she needed to grow. In her application for the Bush Fellowship, she wrote about wanting to Strengthen her public speaking skills, learn more about managing a nonprofit and conquer the voice in her head whispering about the risk of failure. She wrote, “I need to keep reminding myself, ‘What is the worst that can happen if this doesn’t work, and can I live with that?’”

The Fellowship allowed her to travel to California for training on social entrepreneurship at Stanford University and to attend a women’s leadership retreat. “It took me out of my little circle into the bigger world and let me see myself as part of the bigger sum,” says Gronneberg. “It opened my eyes to possibilities on a larger scale — what can I do in my community and in the world to move this needle forward?” 

While building her nonprofit, she employed the same mindset she’d learned in the tech and startup world. “Bethlehem takes the lessons of tech into the work of nonprofits,” says Lulete Mola, vice president of community impact for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, a funding partner of uCodeGirl. “She translates that idea of innovation to social innovation, saying it’s OK to try, to fail fast and fail forward.”

“She’s relentless in her passion and pursuit,” says Langemo. “She has a quiet, commanding presence so when she talks, people listen. And the Fellowship has helped her Strengthen her speaking skills even more and infect others with her passion. People want to see her succeed because Bethlehem succeeding means all these young girls are succeeding as well.”

COLLABORATING ACROSS SECTORS

Gronneberg knew her vision would require collaboration between schools, businesses, families, nonprofits and funding organizations. “I didn’t want to create a transactional coding camp,” she says. “I wanted to build an ecosystem that sustainably engages young women and helps our community to thrive.” In addition to uCodeGirl’s partnerships with local schools and universities such as NDSU, the organization also calls upon area businesses for mentors, sponsorships and job shadowing opportunities. 

Many of the mentors and business leaders say they get more out of their support of uCodeGirl than they give. “From an enterprise perspective, it’s difficult to invest the time and energy to promote STEM to an audience of young women,” says Appareo Systems CEO David Batcheller. “uCodeGirl is a bite-size way for a business like ours to support events and activities with schools and students. It’s all packaged up for us and makes it easy for professionals to engage and have a real impact.”

And many of the women tech professionals who serve as uCodeGirl mentors express gratitude for the opportunity to give back, saying they wish something like uCodeGirl had existed when they were in school.

There’s no doubt that Gronneberg herself has stitched together this ecosystem of support. “She’s a connector,” says Batcheller. “But she’s also a brilliant, educated scientist and engineer — she’s an inspiring example of what the program is intended to achieve.” 

It’s the role modeling that lies at the heard of uCodeGirl’s mission that will continue to multiply the organization’s impact. Since uCodeGirl’s founding in 2016, two of its participants have already gone on to realize their passion in programming at area colleges, and three high school seniors continued to do the same in fall 2020. 

“Even when they’re in college, we won’t leave them alone,” says Gronneberg. “When they graduate, we want them to come back and be mentors. The multiplying is just beginning.”

ENLARGING THE CIRCLE

uCodeGirl emphasizes inclusivity not just in terms of gender, but also in engaging girls from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants, Native Americans and those from disadvantaged communities throughout the upper Midwest. As Gronneberg pursued her Bush Fellowship and was challenged to think bigger, she expanded uCodeGirl’s mission to Africa. In her travels to visit family (a crucial element of her self-care), she hosts international coding camps and workshops to introduce STEM to young girls in Ethiopia. She envisions a world where the people who create and build software mirror the societies for which they create and build.  

In the summer of 2019, Gronneberg hosted a coding camp for 130 high school girls in Ethiopia and facilitated a Skype call between uCodeGirl participants in Addis Ababa and Fargo. “They had so much fun, just giggling and being teenagers, asking questions about each other’s cultures,” says Gronneberg. At one point, a Fargo girl asked an Ethiopian girl about her favorite part of coding. The Ethiopian girl said she had no answer because she didn’t know what coding was. “Everyone was quiet for a second,” says Gronneberg, “and then the Fargo girl said, ‘Oh you will love it; you’ll be so good at it.’ Right there, across the world, she gave that girl permission to explore and be empowered.”

Gronneberg’s work with uCodeGirl in Ethiopia led to a private meeting with President Sahle-Work Zewde, the country’s first female president. The efforts to engage young girls in STEM align with the president’s vision of girl empowerment through education. Also in 2019, Gronneberg was the guest of honor of North Dakota Senator John Hoeven at the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. “She’s a North Dakota ambassador to the world in a lot of ways,” says her Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Nygard. “She sends me selfies with the senator and the Ethiopian president. All these people buy into what she’s trying to do.” 

“As a partner in her work and as a fellow Ethiopian, I’m so inspired by her,” says Mola of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. “She connects what’s happening in greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities to East Africa. She’s a global leader.” Hafkin, Gronneberg’s first boss and lifelong friend and mentor, says, “It’s been amazing to see her grow from the young woman I first knew who was so shy and soft-spoken to someone who can speak with the Ethiopian president and promote the program she developed globally. She’s a model for so many others. She shows young women that her story can be their story, too.

Author: Mo Perry

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Killexams : Pensacola City Council District 2 race is a contest between neighbors

Four neighbors from The Reserve subdivision are all seeking to become the next Pensacola City Council representative for District 2.

The District 2 seat is open this year as Councilwoman Sherri Myers is term-limited and running for mayor.

In separate interviews with the News Journal, all four candidates — Charles Bare, Brian Hoffman, Char Powell and Brian Wyer — told the News Journal they were proud that their neighbors are engaged and care about the city of Pensacola.

"We have a neighborhood that's very involved," Wyer said. "A lot of our neighbors are involved in different activities around town."

Powell said it came as a complete surprise as the race took shape that it was all neighbors running the race.

"What I am excited about is that I am surrounded by a group of people that care about the city that much that they want to do something," Powell said.

Hoffman said it was probably more coincidence that all the candidates were from the same neighborhood, but he was still proud.

"Even though I'm running against these three people, they're also my neighbors, and regardless of the outcome, whoever prevails is going to represent the interests of those same three people who were also in their neighborhood," Hoffman said. "So I kind of think it's pretty cool, in a way."

Bare, who shares a backyard property line with Hoffman, said he wished that more candidates would've gotten in the race from across the district, but it also has led to some jokes with the homeowner's association.

"Somebody told me from our homeowner's associations, 'At least we'll win because we'll have somebody from our homeowners' association that will be there," Bare said.

The Florida Department of Transportation continues work on a project to stop erosion along the bank of Carpenter Creek from damaging the Waterford at Carpenter’s Creek, a senior living community. Engineers with the Wood infrastructure firm told city officials that a more than 1,700-foot section of the creek would have to be completely reworked to solve the erosion problems along that section of the creek.

'Tipping point': Carpenter Creek at 'tipping point' where banks may collapse, damage property, expert says

Who will become the next mayor: News Journal to host public forum. Meet the candidates here

Along with the mayor's race, the City Council District 2 race is one of the more crowded local races on the ballot.

All four candidates largely agreed on many issues facing their district, in particular restoring Carpenter Creek. All four also agreed the current city charter struck the right balance of power between the mayor's office and the City Council.

The election for the District 2 race will be Aug. 23. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election Nov. 8.

Charles Bare

Charles Bare

Bare is no stranger to city campaigns. Bare worked in different public administration positions for the U.S. Department of Education and the University of West Florida while also serving as a reserve officer in the U.S. Army. Bare was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a civil affairs officer.

Bare ran in 2010 and was elected in 2014 to the last at-large council seat on the City Council before the position was abolished in 2016 by an amendment to the city charter. After his first term on the council, Bare also started his own technology consulting company, worked for a nonprofit that promoted youth participation in baseball and worked in disaster response and recovery.

Bare said he is running because he wants to serve the community and believes he has the experience to do the job.

"I wanted to make sure that there was someone within District 2 that could run and fill that void when Sherri leaves and be a voice for the district today," Bare said.

Bare said his campaign is focusing on listening to his constituents and he has knocked on voters' doors nearly every day since qualifying in June.

"I like to listen to constituents, and I like to help them with their problems," Bare said. "It's kind of what I do, and so I feel like I can do that better than my opponents."

On top of restoring Carpenter Creek, Bare said the city should create a stormwater task force to look for a big picture solution to address flooding in the city including Carpenter Creek.

Bare said he wants to find funding to increase the police presence in District 2.

"We need more police presence, and that's not an easy fix because we're going to need to try and increase the number of sworn officers," Bare said.

Other issues Bare said are important to him are doing more to address homelessness in the city and improving the responsiveness of city departments such as permitting and inspections.

Brian Hoffman

Brian Hoffman

Hoffman is an attorney who specializes in real estate and business litigation and has done work in the Florida Bar reviewing and vetting proposed real estate laws.

"I believe that skill set and being involved in that brings a lot to the table for City Council," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said he is a third-generation Pensacolian and his wife, Stephanie, is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

"She has been on more than one deployment," Hoffman said. "And so, I know what it means to be a single parent and having to rely on family and friends."

Hoffman said because of the way the council districts were drawn, District 2 has become "forgotten." He said the challenges facing District 2 could not be solved in a single budget cycle. The problems will have to be tackled over multiple years so the district needs someone who can put a long-term plan in place, he said.

"I want to bring those issues to light so that we get long-term plans to start making some improvements," Hoffman said. "… I don't think anyone was trying to harm District 2. They are just kind of forgotten in just the logistics of politics, and the fact that you don't have as many people being affected doesn't change the fact that the people in District 2 should be getting the same amenities as those in the city."

Meet Brian W. Hoffman: Candidate, Pensacola City Council District 2

Hoffman said one of the biggest issues for the council is the lack of consistency. Hoffman noted that the Pensacola Young Professionals Quality of Life Survey has shown that residents have a negative view of the City Council.

"In my opinion, the answer to the why (the low score in the survey) is that the City Council has been inconsistent," Hoffman said. "And you can watch one of those meetings and see that, whether it's how the meetings are conducted to how projects are being considered, you're having an inconsistent process. Over time, I think more and more people either are directly affected by that, or they know family or friends (who are). And people don't like inconsistency."

Char Powell

Charletha Powell

Char is short for Charletha Powell, who made the practical choice to run under the nickname her family and friends call her, so her campaign signs and name on the ballot would be more noticeable.

Powell, a native of Louisiana, has worked as a litigation manager in the insurance industry and is a long-time community volunteer serving on multiple boards at the city and county levels. She earned a doctorate from the University of West Florida focusing on diversity studies. She is married to Lawrence Powell, former mayoral candidate and current city neighborhoods administrator.

"I care about the people of District 2 as well as the city of Pensacola," Powell said. "And I think that my academic, my business skills, as well as my public service experience has put me in a position to be able to be the voice for my district.

Improving public safety is a big issue for District 2, Powell said.

"Everybody's concerned about safety, whether it comes to crime prevention, the ability to walk the streets safely, for biking and walking, riding, that's been a huge complaint," Powell said. "We don't have enough lighting in the city."

On Carpenter Creek, Powell said she believes the city should Strengthen its rules when it comes to stormwater management and clearly communicate with developers at the beginning of any application process what the rules are.

"Because of the amount of building that we're doing, we need to make sure that those things are functioning properly so that people's properties aren't being flooded or destroyed because we don't have the proper runoff," Powell said.

Powell also said improving affordable housing options in the city is also a priority, and she added the city should work to Strengthen the perception among the public of what "affordable housing" means.

"I think a lot of people decided that they don't want affordable housing in their area because they think of low-income housing," Powell said. "And that is not what it is. It is 80% of the (area's) median income that can afford that. That would help give people an opportunity to want to be for it instead of trying to fight against it."

Brian Wyer

Wyer is the president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce and worked for large national companies like IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers as a data center manager responsible for a team of more than 100 employees.

Wyer, who was born and raised in Pensacola, moved to Tampa to find those career opportunities after graduating from the University of West Florida. Wyer moved back to Pensacola and began working with non-profits when he was hired by the Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce.

Wyer was tapped to work on Mayor Grover Robinson's transition committee where he focused on entrepreneurship and the economy.

Wyer said he felt a calling to run for office, so he threw his hat into the ring.

"I feel like I have a good grasp of being involved with knowing what different groups and organizations are working on and how to utilize those groups to help get things done in our community," Wyer said.

Wyer said his priorities are improving public safety and infrastructure, especially along Carpenter Creek as well as increasing affordable and attainable housing availability in the city.

Wyer said he also wants to ensure District 2 residents felt more a part of the city than they do now.

"Downtown gets a lot of the involvement with the city, and I know Sherri Myers has been promoting for years the fact that 'uptown' is forgotten about," Wyer said.

Wyer said he would approach decisions before the council in three ways: how he personally feels, what is legally required and how voters feel.

"If my whole district says that this is what we need to do or feel like we need to do, and that's the overall theme, I'm going to make sure I go with that," Wyer said. "But I will let them know personally how I feel and let them know legally what needs to be done. So, I think that honesty and openness is very important."

Jim Little can be reached at jwlittle@pnj.com and 850-208-9827.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Pensacola City Council District 2 race is a contest between neighbors

Sun, 24 Jul 2022 23:02:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.yahoo.com/video/pensacola-city-council-district-2-110230619.html
Killexams : Q&A: White Plains Hospital exec on streamlining an emergency department

White Plains Hospital, which is a member of Montefiore Health System and the tertiary care hub in the Hudson Valley, recently completed a full emergency department renovation designed to increase efficiency and streamline care. The hospital is home to the busiest emergency department in the county, having launched a 250,000-square-foot ambulatory center last year, seeing just shy of 65,000 visits in 2021 and expecting almost 70,000 visits this year. Dr. Dean J. Straff, who was appointed director of emergency medicine in 2021, provided insight into why White Plains decided to revamp its emergency room, the success it has experienced so far, and how other hospitals can adopt similar models of care.

Why did you decide to streamline the emergency department?

Our emergency department is the busiest emergency department in Westchester. Many high volume emergency departments often struggle with patient flow and efficiency issues, which can lead to an increased overall length-of-stay capacity challenges and lower patient satisfaction. A few years back as we continued to get busier—partially due to our success—there were these new challenges. In order to do this successfully we wanted to flip the department upside down and do a complete redesign package to Strengthen overall patient care and provide a better experience.

Can you give a timeline of the renovation?

Back in March of 2018, we realized we needed to do something different. When emergency departments eclipse that 60,000 [patient] volume mark, you have to start thinking differently. This was a multipronged approach that took a number of months to roll out. Initially the leadership team hypothesized how we could change things and got input from the front-line staff and brought in more and more people to get their input and feedback until we rolled it out to the whole department. We have a quarterly interdisciplinary meeting [with physicians, nurses, care management, security and the like] and we used that platform to get everybody on board.

What do you think were the most important changes?

At the top [was] redefining what we think of triage traditionally and utilizing that “quick look” team upfront. Upon the patient’s arrival, a quick look team would do this brief assessment and enter information into a software program that uses predictive analytics in combination with some very complex rules to figure out where the patient goes first. That process takes one to two minutes to be complete, then the patient is assigned to the appropriate team and care path. That quick look team decides how sick they are and where they need to go, and then there’s the streaming-of-care model. You have to put patients into evaluation tracks, and each track might have a defined role and dedicated process for those patients. We’re going to treat a patient with an ankle sprain very differently than someone who presents with symptoms of a stroke. Not all patients need to be horizontal, some can be horizontal-sitting and actively waiting to get the care they need. The other biggest piece of this was developing a team-based care model to Strengthen overall communication. In a traditional sense you go to triage, we’ll put you back in the waiting room, and then when we’re ready, we’ll bring you to the back. And then a nurse comes, and then a provider, and each time you’re answering questions you’re answering slightly different and maybe that critical piece of information that will crack the case might not have gotten to the right person. [Our teams] are a physician or an advanced care provider, two to three nurses and a nurse tech working in a geographic zone. So you have 11 or 12 care spaces and you as a team are assigned those patients. You walk in there and collaborate and when they tell that story you’re all hearing it, and everyone knows what’s needed next. The theory was that by increasing collaboration among the caregivers, it would increase efficiency, decrease potential medical errors, Strengthen patient experience and increase employee satisfaction. We realized the idea of having a no-wait emergency department—the sooner the patient can be seen by the provider, we can figure out what’s going on and what needs to be done.

Do you have specific data in terms of how wait time has decreased?

Before our implementation of this, we geographically designed the whole department as well. We renumbered, lifted computers and moved them around, lifted glass … localizing teams together also. Before our redesign, our door-to-provider time was about 22 minutes. We are down to 10 minutes.

Do you have information on the financials of the project, either how much it costs or how much it’s projected to save?

I don’t have that, but I think you can look at … I want to be able to get to patients. We want to make sure our number of [patients who leave without being evaluated] remains as low as possible. That means we’re able to take care of them. Nationally it’s about 3%. There are secondary financials, but that’s not why we do this. We don’t do any of this from a financial perspective—it’s done always from a patient-centered approach. When we did this, we did it from a patient-centered perspective, not being afraid to do something different and think outside of the box.

Interview by Jacqueline Neber

Weill-Cornell led consortium awarded $14.7M to study tech to support older adults


A research consortium led by Weill Cornell Medicine has been awarded a five-year, $14.7 million federal grant to study technologies that can support older adults with cognitive impairments and help promote well-being as adults age, the institution announced Thursday.

Researchers will use the funding to launch three multiple-site projects that will examine how technology can be used to help older adults stay engaged and manage certain tasks.

One study will assess virtual reality technology for use in fostering cognitive and social engagement among aging adults. The second, a collaboration with the IBM Watson Research Center, will develop speech analysis software to engage older adults in storytelling and use that to detect cognitive decline. The third project will focus on digital tools that older adults with cognitive impairments can use to perform health care-related tasks, such as enrolling in Medicare or Medicaid.

“We really think that technology, if it’s well-designed and it’s implemented correctly, really can do a lot in terms of providing support for aging adults both with and without impairment,” said Dr. Sara Czaja, professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The consortium, known as the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement, includes Florida State University, the University of Miami and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine’s division of geriatrics and palliative medicine and the departments of neurology, population health sciences and information technology and services will also collaborate with colleagues at the Cornell Tech and Cornell Ithaca campuses.

This will be the fifth iteration of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement, which first received funding in 1999 to ensure that older adults could use technology for daily living.

Czaja said she hoped the projects’ findings would inform how tech developers design their tools.

“We really want our findings to influence the design of future and current technology systems so they can be used and are useful to aging adult populations,” she said. —Maya Kaufman

NY attorney general claims CVS took safety-net hospitals for millions of dollars


New York Attorney General Letitia James sued CVS on Thursday, alleging it violated antitrust laws and forced some safety-net hospitals to use a CVS-owned third-party administrator for 340B drug programs and incur millions of dollars in additional costs while it left other hospitals to miss out on critical federal funds.

The federal 340B program allows hospitals to stretch their funding by getting discounts on eligible drugs they prescribe to patients and use the savings on patient care. Most safety-net providers such as hospitals use third-party administrators to administer their 340B programs, and the hospitals must keep records of the revenue they collect on prescriptions, including drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Third-partner administrators are responsible for confirming that each drug transaction is eligible for the program.

The lawsuit alleges that since 2017, CVS acquired a third-party administrator, Wellpartner, and forced the hospitals it contracted with to use the program for patients using CVS—and that CVS did not contract with hospitals that didn’t want to use Wellpartner.

Many hospitals objected, James’ office said, because they were already using other third parties. Other hospitals, upon contracting with CVS, had to use Wellpartner exclusively because they couldn’t afford to pay two third-party administrators.

The hospitals that chose not to use Wellpartner were not eligible to collect 340B payments from patients using CVS pharmacies, losing money that could’ve been reinvested in care, the lawsuit alleges. Meanwhile, hospitals that did use Wellpartner incurred millions of dollars in additional costs by hiring and training staff to understand that system.

James is seeking prohibitive action through the lawsuit, her office said, and monetary relief for the hospitals involved. In addition, James wants CVS to be required to tell safety-net hospitals and providers that they are not obligated to use Wellpartner in order to contract with CVS, her office said.

More than 4,440 safety-net providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospitals, rural referral centers, family planning clinics and the like, were enrolled in 340B programs in the state in 2021. —J.N.

City Council awards $4.9M to NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan for CT scan upgrades


NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan will make a $4.9 million investment in upgraded CT scans and ultrasound machines, thanks to a capital award from City Council.

The funding was awarded by City Council member Diana Ayala and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for fiscal 2023. It will allow the East Harlem hospital to replace its 10-year-old CT scanning machine.

Dr. Hassan Matari, chief of radiology services at the hospital, described the upgrade as a “quantum leap.” In addition to faster scans, the new machine will give technicians far more information about the health of patients’ hearts, and it is even used to diagnose heart disease, he explained.

“This scanner achieves whole imaging of the heart within a short time using low-dose radiation, providing more visible details about the heart function and structures,” he said. Matari added the new machine would require patients to spend less time in the scanner.

CT scans usually take a series of 64 X-ray images, or slices, to form a three-dimensional image of a particular body part. The new machine will take 256 slices instead, forming a more accurate picture and diagnosis.

The facility’s eight-year-old ultrasound machines will also be upgraded. The hospital will use the funds to purchase a new C-arm machine, which is a flexible and portable imaging device that can be used to take X-rays in hard-to-reach places with minimal movement of the patient.

The funding builds on the $1.9 million provided by Ayala in last year’s budget.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan on East 97th Street is one of 11 hospitals in the city’s public health care network. It has 338 beds. —James O’Donnell

AT A GLANCE


MONKEYPOX DEMOGRAPHICS: The state department of health released demographics of people with confirmed or probable monkeypox cases for the week through July 27, excluding NYC residents, on Thursday. According to the data, most patients with cases are between 30-34 (23%), 25-29 (21%) and 35-39 years old (20%). Nearly all patients (98%) identified as male, 74% of patients with cases identified as lesbian or gay and 15% identified as bisexual. About a third of patients (35%) identified as Hispanic or Latino, 31% identified as white and 16% as Black. 40% of patients with cases were in Westchester and 21% were in Suffolk County. The health department issued a warning Thursday that monkeypox is an “imminent threat to public health” for all New Yorkers. Learn more about monkeypox in NYC here.

PHARMA EARNINGS: Merck announced $14.6 billion in sales for the second quarter of the year on Thursday, up 28% from this quarter of 2021, led by the cancer drug Keytruda. Its selling-and-administrative expenses grew by 10%, while research-and-development expenses dropped by nearly 35%. Merck is headquartered in Kenilworth, NJ. Meanwhile, Pfizer’s revenue grew 47% to $27.7 billion, it reported Thursday, a record for the company. Its Covid vaccine brought in $8.8 billion and antiviral Paxlovid brought in $8.1 billion. It projects Covid products will bring in $50 billion this year.

PAYMENT BOOST: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be boosting payments for inpatient rehabilitation facilities, inpatient psychiatric facilities and hospice providers, Modern Healthcare reported Thursday. Hospices will receive 3.8% more, inpatient rehabilitation providers 3.2% and inpatient psychiatric provides a 2.5% hike. According to provider groups, however, these hikes aren’t enough to cover rising costs of operating facilities.

WHO'S NEWS: The "Who's News" portion of "At a Glance" is available online at this link and in the Health Pulse newsletter. "Who's News" is a daily update of career transitions in the local health care industry. For more information on submitting a listing, reach out to Debora Stein: [email protected].

CONTACT US: Have a tip about news happening in the local health care industry? Want to provide feedback about our coverage? Contact the Health Pulse team at [email protected]

Thu, 28 Jul 2022 21:30:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.crainsnewyork.com/health-pulse/qa-white-plains-hospital-exec-streamlining-emergency-department
Killexams : ‘Measures up with the best’: Cedar City Hospital rises among top hospitals in the country

ST. GEORGE — If hospitals were ranked similar to popular music acts like BTS and Billie Eilish, Cedar City Hospital would be climbing up the pop charts.

Undated photo of the main entrance of Cedar City Hospital, Cedar City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Cedar City Hospital, St. George News

This month, Fortune magazine ranked the Iron County medical facility as the fourth-best small community hospital in the country in its annual Top 100 Hospitals list. That’s one higher than the Intermountain Healthcare hospital’s 2021 rank.

Cedar City Hospital Administrator Eric Packer told St. George News/Cedar City News he was “thrilled” with the ranking but also indicated it wasn’t a case where it wasn’t earned.

“We believe that the quality of care here at Cedar City Hospital measures up with the best facilities anywhere in the country,” Packer said. “We all know that Cedar City and Iron County is a wonderful place to live, and the quality of healthcare I think reflects the quality of life we enjoy here.”

The rankings use IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system to look at the clinical, operational and financial metrics of 2,650 hospitals and narrows them down to the 100 top scorers. 

Undated photo of medical workers at Cedar City Hospital, Cedar City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Cedar City Hospital, St. George News

“This award comes from one of the most comprehensive studies of hospitals nationwide regarding the quality of care they provide the community – not just in terms of only clinical measures, but also patient satisfaction measures, cost, how a patient does after they’ve been in the hospital, and even how well we support and forward community health,” Packer said.

Under the Fortune criteria, small community hospitals are those with 25-99 beds in service. There were 899 small community hospitals analyzed by IBM and Fortune, with 20 making the list. St. George Regional Hospital, which recently boosted its capacity to 294 beds, is in the large (over 249-bed) hospital category.  

Cedar City Hospital is a 49-bed facility. It is the 11th time the hospital has made the top 100 list.  Another Utah hospital, Alta View Hospital (also an Intermountain facility) in Sandy, got the top ranking in the nation among small community hospitals. 

Unlike Alta View, which earned four stars for financial health, Cedar City netted perfect five-star scores in all four of the major categories of the rankings:  Clinical outcomes, operation efficiency, patient experience and financial health.

There were eight Utah hospitals that made the top 100, which was tied with California for third among U.S. states behind Florida (11 hospitals) and Texas (12).

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Sun, 17 Jul 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.cedarcityutah.com/news/archive/2022/07/18/cdr-measures-up-with-the-best-cedar-city-hospital-rises-among-top-hospitals-in-the-country/
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