Alberta MSP plans aid trip to Slave Lake

Darren Boyer

PCIT president Darren Boyer

Like many Canadians, the images of Slave Lake, Alberta ablaze tugged at Darren Boyer’s heartstrings. For Boyer, president of Grand Prairie, Alta.-based PCIT, which does business in the north of Alberta, the images took on a personal meaning – Boyer reports that one of his customers, based in Slave Lake, lost two homes and the business to the flames that consumed almost half of the town.

“I was just really moved by the severity of it – I just wanted to help them,” Boyer said.

And so Boyer came up with a plan to help – as soon as people are moved back into Slave Lake, and businesses begins in as close an approximation as possible to normal, Boyer and one of his team members will head to Slave Lake to offer local businesses a free technological hand up.

Boyer says right now, he’s waiting for the “green light” from officials and contacts in Slave Lake that there are needs – the plan is for he and one other staffer to head up to the town and for two days, offer their services and skills for free to help businesses get back up and running. That may include installing new equipment, helping with data restoration or data migration, or connecting to new Internet providers for businesses whose incumbent providers are down as a result of the flames.

“There are a lot of organizations that are in need up there, and they don’t have to fund IT services to get back up and running if we can coordinate their need with our time on-site,” Boyer said. “We’d be happy to help.”

At the same time, PCIT is taking the opportunity to remind its customers about the importance of having a business continuity plan, including remote backups – all services the managed service providers offers its customers. The company has blogged about the need for disaster recovery, and has reassured customers that if the worst should happen, their data would be safe.

“We’re letting our customers know that if something like that happens in their region, they would not be completely shut down and their data would not be completely lost,” Boyer said.

Even its Slake Lake-based customers aren’t completely disconnected. Although on-site Exchange servers may be destroyed or disconnected, Boyer said PCIT has set up Web-based alternatives for customers in the area, giving them a way to at least keep in touch with customers (and family) as the town shifts into recovery mode.

Back at headquarters in Grand Prairie, the PCIT team waits to head up. The company has been in touch with local press in Slave Lake to get the word out, and has other contacts including a disaster recovery official and a well-connected businessman, through which it hopes to find businesses in need of its help.

“We don’t know the scope of the work, but we really want to get up there and help businesses get back online,” Boyer said. “We’re hoping we get that green light soon.”

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