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Addressing BC's Privacy Act to Provide 'Out-of-Office' Productivity with a Cloud-Based Solution

The City of Surrey doubles-down on cloud-technology to enable their auxiliary workers to access the City's IT services from their personal devices securely and fully compliant with BC's FIPPA regulations.

  • 4,000+ employees
  • One of the fastest growing cities in Canada with a population of 500,000 residents
  • Government Agency

Challenge

  • The City of Surrey has a large number of auxiliary workers such as library staff and lifeguards who did not have access to the City’s IT services including the intranet, CityNet. 
  • Providing 'out-of-office' workers with company-issued devices would enhance access and engagement but the cost of such a program would not be practical.
  • With the widespread adoption of personal computers and smartphones, David Izzard, Architecture and Cyber Security Manager at the City of Surrey stated, “We needed a way to provide all employees secure and easy access to the information they needed, regardless of their physical location.”
  • However, exposing services externally presents unique security risks that are costly and complex to mitigate. Cybersecurity threats and other security issues make it difficult to expose internal IT resources without proper controls and security.
  • A barrier for all public sectors in adopting cloud-technology: Section 30.1 of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection from Privacy Act (BC FIPPA) specifies that no public-sector body can send personally-identifiable data outside the country without the consent of that individual. 

Solution

  • The City selected Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) as the base platform for the employee portal because it provides features such as multi-factor authentication and the ability to publish internal applications securely.
  • David Izzard partnered with Softlanding, a Vancouver-based Microsoft consultancy with experience developing cloud-based solutions for the public sector. The team at Softlanding helped move the EMS services to Microsoft’s Canadian datacenters. Together, the City of Surrey’s IT team and Softlanding determined that using on-premise Active Directory Federation Services ( ADFS) would allow for customization options that a cloud password sync would not.
  • The City configured Azure Active Directory so that no personal information (PI), as defined by the privacy act, would be sent to the cloud during identity synchronization. ADFS was extensively customized to provide a custom portal and login screen with carefully crafted terms and conditions reviewed by the City’s privacy officer. To use the employee portal, staff would need to download Microsoft’s Authenticator app to their smartphones.

The Results

Internet-based Access to Internal Resources for All Employees

After making customizations and configurations to their ADFS and EMS portal, the City of Surrey could now leverage cloud-based services to provide broad, Internet-based access to the City of Surrey’s IT services via the personal devices of employees, while complying with privacy regulations for public-sector bodies.

Better Communication and Integration with Deskless Workers

Auxiliary workers now have a much greater access to CityNet, the City’s primary mechanism for communicating with staff. Furthermore, desk-less workers can now securely access their paystubs, manage their expense reporting, modify their personal information, and review internal job postings from home without the need to travel to one of the City’s offices. 

Reduced IT Costs 

IT costs have also been reduced by providing a simple mechanism for password resets.   

A Solution for Better Flexibility & Work-Life Balance

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security solution have become an increasingly important tool in empowering and engaging employees while offering enhanced flexibility and work-life balance.

"Softlanding got it right the first time and they were hugely helpful. It was very complex work and we would not have been able to do it without them."
David Izzard
Architecture and Cyber Security Manager, City of Surrey

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