1:10:21 Trip to Vancouver

Reflections on my week in my world of social value, business need, data driven and digital impact


Social Purpose

I spent a long weekend in British Columbia, Canada. That might appear extravagant but behind it lay a year-long agonising wait to visit daughter #1 and her partner who moved to work in Vancouver last summer.

And what a lovely weekend it was. First time visit to a fabulous laid back city with access to gorgeous landscape and unlimited fresh air activities. Laughter, tears, and reassurance as we caught up on over a year’s worth of news and opinions.

Oh, and it rained! Jeez did it rain! Brutal, incessant, and invasive! It didn’t stop the pleasure, but it did filter the sea to the sky beauty that only become apparent on my last day as I cycled, ferried, and walked as much of the city as I could.

Culturally, Canadians appear, at least to the outsider, to be navigating the COVID-19 crisis in a much more adult way than the swingometer of public opinion that seems to drive the UK approach. Masks, vaccine certificates and social distancing gently steer collective behaviour and respect without ever feeling invasive.

Data Driven

The cost of my trip was navigating the bureaucratic entanglements of travelling via trains, planes, buses, and taxis whilst trying to maintain my digital first principles. The impact of which later.

I’ve followed the COVID-19 data closely since the pandemic hit. So, my obvious choice for travel reading was Covid by Numbers – Making Sense of the Pandemic with Data by David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters. Keeping close to the numbers and avoiding Facebook has been my guide to pandemic resilience.

Easy reading, great insights (despite b&w charts) and bite-sized chapters meant I devoured the book before boarding more my plane!

The data from this book takes us to May 2021 so the latest wave of cases is not accounted for. Despite this, and predicting another challenging winter, bodged management, and an envy of liberal and less-populous countries the big statistic I noted was that the medium age of death with COVID was only 15 months less (at 82) than the medium age of death without COVID (83).

Vaccines are the key! (See chapter 22)

Business Needs

I took the opportunity to meet up with some clients. By complete coincidence, as my daughter relocated, I was approached by a former colleague to provide advice and support to a social housing organisation in British Columbia. It’s been an enjoyable piece of work despite the 4,700 miles and 8 hours time difference.

My sponsor has now moved on and so it was great to meet the people I’ve been helping, another team that has reached out following word of mouth approval, and some of the Executive Team.

At the same time, the provincial government has also shown interest and I find myself navigating loyalties and conflicts of interest. The trip helped me to assess what’s important for me, so I left Vancouver with a clearer idea of the direction I wanted to go in. If that means this chapter is at an end, then that’s all right too!

Digital Impact

Our business is bult on the principles of digital transformation. But sometimes I have my doubts about the impact we have, and this trip demonstrated both the glories and glaring holes in digital transactions.

The hour-long delay going through Heathrow on my return was caused mainly by people pushing and prodding the eGate terminals with every document they could bring to hand. At least one in three required some human support and reassurance. My theory is that in times of stress, and international travel causes unlimited opportunities, people cannot absorb the high-volume of information requests that they are asked to provide.

I would, however, recommend both the online UK passport renewal service, PCR testing (at a cost) and UK passenger locator form. But putting it all together is challenging, and I had one heart-stopping moment when I was told my passport did not match my ETA visa because I had recently updated my passport. Luckily the Canadian ETA online application was equally impressive (at a cost).

As for the passenger locator: great interest shown at the Canadian border, none in UK! We might not know the outcome until I’m 83!

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